Photo by Don Nelson

Doug Johnson was recently sworn in as Winthrop’s newest deputy.

Johnson brings wide range of experiences from 25-year career

By Don Nelson

For Winthrop’s new deputy marshal, personal and professional motivations made the move to the Methow an attractive choice.

Doug Johnson was recently sworn in as Marshal Dan Tindall’s deputy, thus doubling the size of the Winthrop police department. In fact, it’s been about two-and-a-half years since the town had two full-time officers, and for a good part of that time, it had no police force at all. Tindall was hired in August, following the February 2017 firing of former Marshal Hal Henning.

Johnson spent about 25 years with the Tukwila Police Department, which has more than 70 sworn officers, so Winthrop is a dramatic change. But it’s one he sought and looks forward to embracing.

“This is the ideally suited job I was looking for,” Johnson said in a recent interview.

After advancing through the patrols ranks to the management level in Tukwila, where his responsibilities included running the narcotics, vice and patrol divisions and overseeing a complicated drug bust, Johnson still wanted to be a police officer but in a different setting.

Johnson was not recruited for the Winthrop position and did not know Tindall previously. He came across the job advertisement independently and decided to pursue it.

Johnson said the oral board interview he had in Winthrop, which he said included several retired police officers, was “outstanding” and “sealed the deal for me.”

“They were invested in checking the suitability [of candidates],” Johnson said. “That was a clue as to the engagement of the community.”

Johnson grew up in Spokane, graduated from Ferris High School and attended Eastern Washington University, where he majored in sociology and criminology with a military science minor. He started with the Tukwila Police Department in 1993. He and his wife, Becky, have 19- and 16-year-old daughters.

A good fit

Johnson has been hunting and fishing in Okanogan County for years, so was familiar with the area before he sought the deputy’s position.

That knowledge, Johnson said, was persuasive in what “became a very important life choice decision,” he said.

“It was the personal aspect,” Johnson said of the decision-making process that he and his wife went through. “Are we ready to go? Is this what we want to do? Fit is very important.”

The professional appeal of the Winthrop job was an opportunity to practice community-based police work, with effective connections to the town and its residents, Johnson said. Johnson said he is a strong believer in personal interactions to build trust and mutual understanding in the community.

Johnson said that Tukwila “was a great experience … I had tremendous co-workers and bosses … and had the opportunity to run a big criminal investigation.”

The breadth of his experience, Johnson said, “allows me to do a lot of things and to be prepared for whatever happens here.”

“I’m looking for the same thing the community is — stability in the marshal’s office,” Johnson said.

With Johnson’s addition, the Marshal’s Office has a wealth of professional experience to draw on.

Tindall is a decorated Washington State Patrol trooper who intends to make the Methow Valley his permanent home. Tindall’s 25 years with the state patrol included more than 12 years on the executive protection unit, where he provided security for the three most recent Washington governors — Gary Locke, Christine Gregoire and Jay Inslee. After retiring from the patrol in August 2015, Tindall worked for a private security firm that contracted uniformed, armed security officers to retail businesses.

The town’s 2018 budget includes funds for a second deputy marshal. If that position is filled, Winthrop will have a three-officer contingent for the first time in several years.