Juneau’s police chief resigns

JPD’s top cop takes new position in Idaho, deputy to take interim chief slot

In this August 2016 photo, Juneau Chief of Police Bryce Johnson speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during their weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau is losing its top cop.


Juneau Police Department Chief Bryce Johnson, hired four years ago to replace retiring Chief Greg Browning, has accepted a position in Idaho.

On Friday, Johnson announced he has accepted the position of police chief for Idaho Falls, a city of 56,813, with a salary range of $100,355 to $150,534.

Johnson’s last day will be July 28; Deputy Chief Ed Mercer will serve as interim police chief.

Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said Friday his staff was meeting to start hammering out the selection process for a new police chief and did not have a time frame in mind.

Watt said he has a lot of confidence in Mercer, adding, “I’m not worried about the department in the short term. The deputy chief is strong and capable, so that gives us that luxury.”

Johnson served Juneau during “interesting times,” Watt said, citing sentencing reform, the legalization of marijuana, an increase in homelessness, and a growing opioid epidemic that has fueled rising property crime rates as some of the issues the borough has faced.

“It was not an easy time to be chief, and he served the community well,” Watt said of Johnson. “His willingness to put himself out there was notable and commendable. … I’m sad to lose him. … But I really do wish him well.”

When Johnson was selected as a finalist, he told the Empire that his family is a big part of the reason for making such a move, saying Idaho Falls is close to where his grandchildren are.

“We’re excited,” Johnson said of the move.

He said he has confidence his departure will not affect the police department adversely, saying, “Chiefs come and chiefs go, but the employees here are outstanding and will do a great job.”

Johnson has been Juneau’s police chief since June 2013; his base salary in 2015 was $122,250.

Johnson came to Juneau from the Salt Lake City Police Department. He has a masters degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University and also spent time as an intelligence specialist for the U.S. Naval Reserve and teaching criminal justice to high schoolers at the Salt Lake City School District.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or liz.kellar@juneauempire.com.


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