MACHIAS – She types correspondence, arrests bad guys and tests drug addicts – so it’s no wonder Paula Johnson, 43, recently was named the Maine Sheriffs’ Association’s Employee of the Year.
Johnson said Tuesday she was unaware that her former boss, Sheriff Joseph Tibbetts, now state Rep. Tibbetts, had nominated her last year for the award. “I didn’t learn of the award until it was actually done,” she said Tuesday. “I was really overwhelmed by the whole thing.”
Earlier this month, Johnson traveled to Portland to accept the award at the Maine Sheriffs’ Association’s annual meeting. “It was quite an affair, I had no idea,” she said. Although other awards were presented that night, she was the only one from Washington County to be so honored.
Although he no longer is sheriff of Washington County, Tibbetts attended the ceremony and presented the award.
In his nomination letter, Tibbetts said Johnson had been the department’s administrative assistant during the tenures of the past three sheriffs.
“She was hired by Sheriff Harold Prescott in July 1986. She was retained by Sheriff John Crowley when he won the nomination for sheriff in November 1990,” the nomination letter said. “Paula remained under my administration when I was elected in 1998.” She continues to serve in that capacity under newly elected Sheriff Donnie Smith.
In 1999, Johnson, who is a single mother with two sons ages 13 and 8, took the 100-hour law enforcement course and was appointed a part-time deputy by Tibbetts.
That’s when her duties began to expand.
“For the past seven years Paula has worked numerous hours beyond her regular duties as administrative assistant, taking on responsibilities of drug testing and arresting drug court clients for failure to pass tests,” the letter said. “She has also voluntarily conducted drug testing at the courts and human services request.”
For the past four years, Johnson has worked with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency “searching, wiring and interviewing female informants,” the letter said. Tibbetts wrote that it was not uncommon for MDEA to request Johnson’s assistance in executing search warrants, doing drug raids or just to search a female informant.
This is not the first time she’s been honored.
Last year, American Legion Post 8 in Cherryfield presented her with the Outstanding Law Enforcement Award for 2006. “It was because of my work with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency,” she said.
Asked if there were more awards in the offing, Johnson said with a laugh: “My 15 minutes of fame is going to be over within about two seconds.”