Community Voices: Local brothers have commitment to public service

You can live in a place almost 20 years and still learn a few things. Turns out the mayor of Norcross and Lawrenceville chief of police are brothers.

I sat down with Mayor Bucky Johnson and Chief of Police Randy Johnson a couple of weeks ago and I must say, they disappointed me greatly. I was hoping for a little brotherly rivalry, a little barely harbored jealousy.

The Johnson brothers, there are three of them, grew up Dekalb’s East Lake area. Their parents, Gabe and Eveline, set an example of hard work, community service and good humor. Gabe could fix anything from cars to plumbing. Eveline was a gregarious “character in the neighborhood.”

Next March, Chief Johnson will have been with the Lawrenceville Police thirty years. On Dec. 1, he will have served as police chief for eighteen years. According to his brother, what people don’t know about him is “he has a great sense of humor. And, while he’s generally quiet, when he says something, you really want to listen.”

Mayor Johnson, Bucky to everyone in town, did just that when renegotiating the city’s service delivery strategy. In 2012, Gwinnett and the county’s 15 cities agreed to four service districts to manage what services each jurisdiction delivers. For Norcross, one of several cities with its own police force and code enforcement, this also prevents the county from charging taxes for services the city renders.

The brothers have also collaborated to improve how Gwinnett manages 911 emergency dispatches. Three years ago, every 911 call made in Gwinnett was routed by landline to the affected city. Now, when a call for police is placed in Lawrenceville, the call is electronically, and rapidly routed to Lawrenceville Police for immediate response.

Police Chief Johnson says his brother is in politics, “for the community.” And he brags, “Everybody knows Bucky, everybody loves him. He’ll do anything for anybody.”

That said, when the boys were younger, someone let a pet alligator loose in the lake across the street. Randy borrowed his brother’s BB gun and climbed out across a branch overlooking the lake and the gator. When the branch broke, as tends to happen when your mom has “warned you not to mess with that (fill in the blank),” the future police chief fell into the lake and, “came out of the water before the splash.” The BB gun however, remained behind and, let’s just say Bucky didn’t offer to help with everything that day.

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