Sgt. Robert Johnson, who is to be promoted to lieutenant this morning and become a county police shift commander in the Northern District next week, is not your typical policeman. He likes the press.
"Officers perceive that the relationship between the press and police is adversarial," said Sergeant Johnson, supervisor of the department's public information office since last April. "But it's really not."
Many officers are wary of reporters, but Sergeant Johnson said he will miss them in his new job.
"They are not our enemies," he told 30 cadets during a recent class on media relations at the police academy. "In fact, they help us all the time."
Newspapers and television stations regularly carry pictures and information on missing persons and suspects in murders and robberies, he pointed out.
The 27-year veteran of the force will command day and evening shifts at Northern, where he will continue the department's emphasis on community policing, he said.
Sergeant Johnson has turned his affinity for and understanding of the media into a sideline. He has written articles for the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and Police Chief and Police magazines.
"I'm fond of writing," he said, "but I don't like that deadline thing."
The 44-year-old divorced father of two boys -- Robert Jr., 12, and Matthew, 6 -- lives with them in his Crofton home. He graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1968 and was a police cadet in communications for three years before being accepted into the police academy.
Sergeant Johnson received a master's certificate in public administration from the University of Baltimore in 1993.