Hempstead Village Chief of Police Paul Johnson retiring after 25 years on the job
After more than two decades on the police force, Village of Hempstead Police Chief Paul Johnson is handing in his badge. Chief Johnson will retire from the department on Oct. 29 and will have a formal walking out ceremony on Friday afternoon.
Chief Johnson reformed the police department following nationwide protests spurred by the death of George Floyd. He updated the department's decades-old use of force policies, recruitment practices and training procedures.
Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. tells Team 12 Investigates that Chief Johnson helped to modernize the department's technology. Those updates strategically placed license plate readers, surveillance cameras and ShotSpotter gunshot detection systems around the village.
"He wanted to make sure they had things in place so we could continue to have a positive relationship with our community," said Mayor Hobbs Jr.
However, the last few years of Chief Johnson's career have been riddled with controversy. In 2019, he was indicted on eight counts for allegedly fixing parking tickets. His next court date in the case is in November.
Chief Johnson is also named in now five separate civil lawsuits—along with a former village police officer, the Village of Hempstead and its police department. Five women have filed $10 million lawsuits accusing former police officer Jack Guevrekian of rape.
The women claim Guevrekian stalked, threatened, sexually harassed and assaulted them for nearly a decade. According to the lawsuits, Chief Johnson knew about Guevrekian's behavior, but turned a blind eye—doing nothing to stop the misconduct or prevent it from happening.
In an exclusive interview with Team 12 Investigates, Mayor Hobbs Jr. defended his decision to keep Chief Johnson in the department's top post despite the controversy.
"In spite of the fact that he had this cloud over his head, he was still innocent until proven guilty," said Mayor Hobbs Jr. "I reinstated his badge and gun and I said to him, 'All I want you to do is make sure that you continue to move this department in the right direction, provide the safety that the residents in the Village of Hempstead deserve' and he has done that."
Mayor Hobbs Jr. said crime has gone down in the village since Chief Johnson was promoted. According to data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, gun violence in the Village of Hempstead is down 58% from this time last year.
Assistant Chief Richard Holland and Deputy Chief Derek Warner will oversee the department as the search for Johnson's successor begins. Mayor Hobbs Jr. said they are planning to promote from within.
The candidate with the highest score on the Chiefs Civil Service exam will likely be the department's next high-ranking uniformed officer, Mayor Hobbs Jr. said.