OREM, Utah (ABC4 UTAH)- Reaching your dream is rarely easy. And a police officer in Orem knows from first hand experience. You see, it took her nearly a decade to make her dream happen. Here's this week's Behind the Badge.
Detective Karalee Johnson is always busy. However, she doesn't mind - because she says that just means another opportunity to help a victim. "I can't imagine doing anything else or being anything else." Johnson is a detective in the Orem Police Department's Special Victim's Unit. She says every case is emotional and tragic. "When you go and interview a victim who cannot understand why this happened to them - they did nothing to deserve this terrible thing." "I wanted to do this toward the middle and end of my career because I knew how difficult it would be. How emotional it is."
Detective Johnson says she is more than willing to be the one to talk to victims - to hear the terrible details - and then chase down those responsible. "And you follow it through and put that person in prison for a very long time so they can't hurt anybody else."
The 11 year police veteran became a detective just a year ago. "This has been one of the most emotional and difficult assignments and also one of the most important and one of the best assignments I've ever had." Johnson spent her first 10 years on patrol - where things were often more physical. Like an arrest just four blocks from the police station. "Decided he wanted to punch me. So, he tried to punch me, but he was too intoxicated. So, we got into a scuffle." "Then I stunned him - tased him." "..then he started crying and was really mad at me."
And before she patrolled the streets of Orem she worked behind the scenes as a dispatcher for eight years. "It's a great job and the people who do it work really hard and it's a hard job." But she always felt it was just preparation to actually putting on the badge. "I just decided it was time to go back to the academy and be out on the road." Plus, the 42-year-old says police work was in her blood. Her father was a deputy in Millard County. "I saw all the good that he did for all those years and how much he cared." "From a very young age, I figured that is what I was going to do. It was what I was meant to do, I think."
So, now she is the one who is serving and protecting. And she and the SVU team are also trying to make Orem a little safer everyday. "When sad things happen or terrible things happen they are the ones you want there because of their compassion and kindness. But also their ability to separate it and get the job done."
Not only was Detective Johnson's father was in law enforcement - her husband and her father-in-law are also in law enforcement - at the Utah County Sheriff's Department.
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