PORT ANGELES — Mike Johnson goes running into places other people come running out of.
And he loves doing it.
Johnson was born with most of his left arm missing, but that did not stop the Port Angeles police officer from becoming one of the most respected members of the force.
Johnson said he became a cop to make a positive impact on the world.
Now he is.
“I’ve always liked being the person you call on when you need help,” said Johnson, who joined the police department in July 2007.
Sgt. Glenn Roggenbuck — Johnson’s superior — admits there was some initial resistance to the notion of having a one-armed cop on the squad.
It didn’t take long for Johnson to erase everyone’s doubts.
“He has the ability to do things with one arm that are sometimes difficult for people with two arms,” Roggenbuck said.
“I found out pretty quickly that Johnson didn’t need any help making himself a success. . . . If there were any doubters, I don’t think there are any now.”
But according to Roggenbuck, Johnson’s best attributes are not physical in nature.
Its Johnson’s integrity, work ethic and dedication that most impresses Roggenbuck, a 25-year veteran.
“He really has a way of talking to people across all spectrums,” Roggenbuck said. “He’s a very positive guy.”
Deputy Chief Brian Smith said Johnson works through difficult situations well, and meets his challenges head-on.
“He’s hard-working, intelligent and brings a lot of energy and dedication,” Smith said.
“He’s a complete package — very well suited to serving the public.”
Officers spend most of their time communicating with people, and Johnson excels at doing that, Roggenbuck said.
“He’s got such a good attitude,” Roggenbuck said. “You like having him around.”
With his 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame, Johnson doesn’t get pushed around by anyone.
“I do all right,” Johnson said with a wry smile.
An agile man for his size, Johnson learned valuable combat moves during in his wrestling days at Skyline High School in Sammamish, east of Bellevue.
“Wrestling has been a lot of help as far as defensive tactics,” Johnson said. “I ended up using a lot of the moves in the academy.”
He also played center when the Spartans won the Class 3A state football championship in 2000.
Having one arm never seemed to deter him.
“It’s the only thing I’ve ever known,” Johnson said.
During his teen years, Johnson took trips to the North Olympic Peninsula to fish, camp and hike with his Boy Scout troop. Johnson earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
His affection for the Peninsula eventually drew him back.
While attending Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Johnson became a part-time emergency medical technician, or EMT, and volunteered as a firefighter.
Johnson looked at several police departments when he was preparing for his next move, but always kept one eye on Port Angeles.
“There’s no place like Port Angeles,” Johnson said.
“They truly believe in working with the community to solve problems.”
The training academy for new cops was difficult for Johnson.
It’s tough for anyone.
The intensive, 720-hour program takes about five months to complete. Johnson credits Roggenbuck and his fellow police officers for helping him get through.
“In the world of the academy, everything is black-and-white, pass-fail,” Johnson said.
“It made things very interesting.”
But Johnson passed the academy — and the 14-week field training program — with flying colors.
Now, no two days are the same.
That’s exactly how Johnson likes it.
“This is the only place I really wanted to be,” he said.