ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Captain Lynde Johnston would prefer to ignore his next order. Retirement! After 52 years on the job he’s going to call it a career. The state of New York has said he has reached the finish line.
On Tuesday he’s retiring after 52 years of service, the last 31 years as a captain. His son Casey is asking people to illuminate their blue lights on May 30th as a salute to an extraordinary career with the Rochester Police Department.
Anyone that has been in the business that long deserves more than blue lights. But we’ll start there. Let’s hit the switch people!
Lynde Johnston is not merely leaving behind a lengthy trail in law enforcement, but his legacy includes three sons working as cops. The feature photo includes the Johnston men.
From left to right is New York State Trooper Ryan Johnston, Captain Lynde Johnston of the Rochester Police Dept, Police Officer Adam Johnston of the Rochester Police Deptment, and Peace Officer Casey Johnston of the Gates Police Department.
To place Captain Johnston’s length of service in perspective, LBJ was president when he was a rookie, “Yesterday” by The Beatles topped the charts, and Neil Armstrong didn’t take the first step on the moon until Johnston had been on the beat for four years.
In the corner of his office, Johnston stores the stories of his 52-year career, reported WHAM. His collection of notes on crimes dates back to 1965. They include photos of suspects and victims.
“I always want to remember who the victim is,” he explained. “They’re kids, they’re mothers, they’re fathers.”
Doing this kind of emotionally-torturous work for five decades is almost unheard of, but Johnston rarely brought it home to his family.
The one exception was the Shawcross murders.
“We had eleven women that died, and anytime we didn’t make the right decision or thought you didn’t make the right decision, somebody else could have died,” he said.
“I remember going home after that,” he continued. “When it was over, I went upstairs on the landing, and it was one of the first times I broke down and cried…I felt so sorry for all the victims. Some of these young girls were street prostitutes, but that doesn’t mean they should die. That was a very difficult time.”
As Johnston retires, he is concerned about public perception of police and about the safety of officers everywhere, including his sons.
“Somehow, things got all mixed up,” he said. “And it’s like everything we do, we’re the bad guy. If people could sit in my chair and see what really goes on, they would be absolutely surprised by the dedication and work they do for this community.”
Needless to say, technology has changed police work significantly over his career. Yet the basics remain unchanged.
“Police work is talking to people, listening to people. Getting that information and being able to do something with it,” he said. “That’s never changing. That’s never going to change.”
Johnston said he has 20 hobbies that he’s barely had time to enjoy. However, that is about to change. But most of his time now will belong to Marilyn, his wife of 44 years.
“She’s excited about the retirement, and I’m certainly going to have to get on board with that,” he said. “But everything does come to an end. I truly appreciated the opportunity to serve this community and the people.”
“I love the people and love the work,” he added.
During Police Week recently Johnston joined thousands of others on the Police Unity Ride. He pedaled from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to raise awareness and finances for fallen officers and the National Officer’s Memorial.
One of his retirement goals is to continue to make the ride when he’s 80. Somehow we believe he’ll make it happen.
Captain Lynde Johnston, enjoy going “10-7, out of service.” You’ve earned it!
(Photo credit Michael Hogan and courtesy of the Johnston family)