Chief Johnson has kindness matched in officer's gesture

East District patrolman yields Christmas Day off contest reward to partner

  • Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson (second from left) is shown with his two winners of this year's Holiday Patrol Contest -- East District Patrol Officer Robert Phillips (far left) and North District Patrol Officer Peter Athens (second from right). Also shown is East District Patrol Officer Austin Kidd (far right). Phillips yielded his reward to his partner, Kidd. (Photo: Arlington Police Department)
    Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson (second from left) is shown with his two winners of this year's Holiday Patrol Contest -- East District Patrol Officer Robert Phillips (far left) and North District Patrol Officer Peter Athens (second from right). Also shown is East District Patrol Officer Austin Kidd (far right). Phillips yielded his reward to his partner, Kidd. (Photo: Arlington Police Department)
Ken Costlow

Christmas has always been a time for traditions, and one ritual at the Arlington Police Department makes Police Chief Will Johnson one of the most popular individuals this side of the North Pole.

For the fifth consecutive year, Chief Johnson implemented his Holiday Patrol Contest. The contest allows officers to participate in a contest to get Christmas Day off to spend with family and friends, with Johnson filling in for them on duty that day.

The rules may vary each year, but this year the participating officers were afforded an opportunity to submit a short essay detailing an accomplishment they had to better the City of Arlington.

In accordance with his custom, Johnson selected two officers to have the day off on Christmas.

The first employee chosen was North District Patrol Officer Peter Athens, who described several events that occurred during the year where he tried to improve the community one call at a time.

Johnson’s second selection, however, left him rather astonished, but in a most pleasant way.

The second choice was East District Robert Phillips. Phillips recalled a serious automobile crash that he had worked, one that allowed him to form a mentoring relationship with a young adolescent.

Johnson telephoned both officers to let them know that he had selected them as the winners of the contest. Both Athens and Philips expressed appreciation for their rewards, but then Phillips took it a step further.

In the midst of the conversation with Johnson, Phillips indicated that his family plans had changed for Christmas Day and that he would be available to fulfill his duty that day.

In his place, Phillips asked that his shift mate, East District Patrol Officer Austin Kidd be granted his free Christmas Day instead. Kidd had finished third behind Athens and Phillips in the contest’s final listing.

“I was overwhelmed with the compassion that Robert had by wanting to give Austin Christmas Day off due to some family reasons,” Johnson said. “Our people truly care about one another, and the shift camaraderie was amazing.”

Chief Johnson has always shown great pride in the men put their lives on the line every day to serve the City of Arlington.

And having his annual showing of benevolence matched in kind by one of those officers will only bolster that gratification.

This story is part of the Arlington Voice’s 25 Days of Good News series