Chief Barry Johnson Interview

“If you treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, respect will come naturally.”
Words from Chief Barry Johnson of the Gardner-Webb University Police on Friday, February 24, 2012. Chief Johnson was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina; he attended Gardner-Webb from fall of 1981 to spring of 1985 and has now been working for the campus police since 1989.
Chief Johnson was interviewed about his life up to becoming a law enforcement officer, and what kind of experiences he has had juggling being a family man and the Chief of Police at a University. There is a lot more than what meets the eye with one of the most important and people on campus.
Chief Johnson serves as a sort of father figure to the students on Gardner-Webb’s campus. He stated that throughout his life, if he could name anyone as being a role model for him, it would be his dad or granddad. He said “they were the ones who tried to teach him the most and that he tries to model himself after them…. He looks at what they have accomplished throughout their lives and has wanted to do it too because he is proud of the things they have done.
Growing up, Chief said that he was not much a trouble maker and was a fairly “good kid.” He has fond memories of growing up going on vacations with his family to Rightsville Beach in North Carolina and remembers one particular vacation to Maggie Valley in the North Carolina Mountains with his mom, dad, and sisters.
Throughout grade school, Chief was very involved in sports, he was an all-around athlete. He played JV football his 10th grade year of high school and Varsity his 11th and 12th grade years as linebacker; this is the sport he enjoyed most and was most passionate about in high school. He was also the catcher for his high school’s JV team his 10th grade year, then for Varsity his 11th and 12th grade years. The sport he was best at and was a Varsity member all three years of in high school was wrestling. Chief wrestled at 119 pounds and wen 19-0 his senior year. He ended up not being able to finish out the season as he was forced to sit out right before the tournaments with cauliflower ear; a common injury in wrestling.
After high school, deciding to attend Gardner-Webb was a choice that Chief Johnson didn’t even need to think twice about. Chief’s brother attended Gardner-Webb first in his family, then his sister, and finally his cousin. So, “it was only natural that Johnson’s from Wilmington went to Gardner-Webb.”
Chief shared some of the differences in how Gardner-Webb was when he attended it back then and what kind of University it has changed into today. He said, “The choices you had back then were different.” “If you went to the caf and they were serving meat loaf for dinner, you ate meat loaf, or you did not eat dinner.” He thought that back then you had nobody but yourself to blame for getting into any kind of trouble, but now, “there are too many choices….well, maybe not too many, but definitely more than there used to be.”
Chief’s athleticism continued through college and he stayed very involved. He played football for Gardner-Webb and was a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). He also played intermural sports including flag football, softball, and basketball, which he claims to have not been very good at. When asked about his academics, he chuckled a little when he said that he “attended summer school and was a member of the biology club.”
Gardner-Webb did not have a student workout center when Chief attended like the one that is now available. He said “there were pool tables in the bottom of the Dover Campus Center (DCC) and that was about it… When he worked out, he would go the football weight room and he ran a lot.” Overall, described his experience at Gardner-Webb as a good and memorable one, mainly because it is where he met his wife.
While taking summer school classes, Chief worked as a life guard at the pool on campus, Mitzi, who is now his wife, also worked there as a life guard with her twin sister. While Chief had just finished his freshman year when he worked at the pool, Mitzi was still high school but because her father worked as the Provost on campus, she and her sister were given jobs. Chief was originally more interested in Mitzi’s twin, but Mitzi was more interested on him since he was a “blonde haired, blue eyed life guard.” He said, “I could have gotten either one of them, but I chose the other one (with a little chuckle).”
The first date Chief took Mitzi on was to the movie theater in Shelby to see “Officer and a Gentleman”. The school year following that summer, when Chief was a sophomore and Mitzi was just a senior in high school, they started dating, in 1982. They dated for the remainder of Chief’s college career and all of Mitzi’s. Upon graduation, Chief attended the Coast Guard for two years, and then married Mitzi on May 27, 1987 on Gardner-Webb’s campus in the Dover Chapel.
Chief had joined the Coast Guard because he had always wanted to help people. He said he “wanted to help people in distress and loved boats and the ocean.” He said it was hard dating Mitzi for the first two years when she was still in college. Those two years he spent at Atlantic Beach and didn’t enjoy being away from his family and his girlfriend because the boats would stay gone for one to two months at a time where he would not be able to communicate with anyone.
Chief did enjoy the fact that while he was in the Coast Guard, he was able to travel and see many places. He traveled from Novascosha, all the way to Cuba. He said, “You ever been to Cuba? No? You need to go sometime (with another one of his chuckles).” When his four years were finally up though, he got out and got a job at the Carteret County Sheriff’s office, named after Lord Carteret from England, it’s discoverer in Beaufort, North Carolina.
Hannah Johnson, Chief and Mitzi’s first child was born in 1990, after being married for three years. Clayton Scott Johnson, their second child and named after Chief’s uncle, was born in 1992. He said that “when your kids do things you can be proud of that is unexpected of them, like helping someone or committing an unselfish act of kindness towards someone, makes you feel like you are a successful parent.” Chief said that he loves being able to give his kids things that he and Mitzi were not able to have as sons and daughters. He “loves being a parent at Christmas time and giving them surprises that they have no idea are coming.”
Having kids and being an officer can at times be a hard thing to deal with though. Chief said that the hardest thing to deal with is that “expectations are so high on the kids of law enforcement officers. It sometimes puts them in an uncomfortable predicament or bad situation with their friends or their friends’ parents.” He compared it to being the son or daughter of a preacher. He said that “the expectations of doing no wrong are unrealistic, when naturally the deck is stacked against them because at their age, they are bound to make mistakes.”
When Chief Johnson first started working as a Gardner-Webb police officer, it was 1996 and he started out on night shift. He said that for two and a half years he would work and go to school, just to be taking some classes while he was there. When the Chief position opened, he knew he wanted it and although he had not been there a long time, he got it! He had to work to gain respect around campus. He said, “If you treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, respect will come naturally,” which is what happened for him.


Air Heads!

Right now I am eating Air Heads for a snack and they are very delicious. They have so many different flavors to choose from that they never really get old and I could eat them all day if I wanted! When I am at my boyfriend’s baseball games I always bring along some Air Heads because they are very easy to carry to the field and it is an enjoyable snack to eat as well, especially since concession stand food at games is so expensive. It is also kind of fun to play with Air Heads because of their texture and feel, they are very fun to chew on and stretch out or roll up into a ball. I love Air Heads a lot and I will most likely continue to eat them for many more years to come!

Creamy Tomato Soup!

Creamy tomato soup is one of my favorite meals to eat for lunch or dinner. I especially love to eat it with a grilled cheese because I feel like they are the perfect compliment. I also find it a little bit weird that I do like creamy tomato soup because I hate tomato soup, but their is something about that creamy tomato soup that I just love. When I make it for myself I love to add a lot of pepper to add a little bit of spice to it. Since it is now getting close to summer time I don’t eat soup as often, but when it is fall and winter, creamy tomato soup is my go-to for a nice warm meal after a cold day.


This semester the Caf has made an addition of pepperoni to the salad bar and I have taken full advantage of that. I love pepperoni, and I feel like it goes well with a lot of things. So far I have used the pepperoni’s to put on my salad, sandwiches, pizza, and even though it was gross I tried it on some sushi. Pepperoni is a spicy Italian-American version of salami, it is usually made from pork or beef. Pepperoni pizza is also one of my favorite types of pizza and is what I would choose most of the time when I order pizza unless I am ordering a specialty pizza. I feel like pepperoni is a very versatile food because of all the things it can be eaten with and I love it with almost anything!

Crystal Light!

Ever since I was introduced to Crystal Light on the go packets a few years back I have not been able to stop drinking them. They have 33 different flavors and I have tried just about all of them and I can’t say there has been one I have not liked yet. The best part is that they are only 10 calories and zero sugar for 16.9 fluid ounces. I now carry a few packets around with me in my purse so I can always have great flavors with me on the go! One thing I have been experimenting with lately is mixing flavors in one bottle, I will take half from each packet and pour it into my water bottle to create a whole new flavor. Sometimes when I am feeling a little crazy I even combine 3 different flavors into one water bottle! Crystal Light on the go packets are absolutely amazing and i highly recommend them to anybody.


Oranges are some of the best tasting fruits I have ever had. I just love how they are pack with juice and with flavor. I could eat an orange at pretty much every meal of every day. There are so many different types of oranges also that come from all different places over the United States. There are two major types that include the naval and the valencia oranges; but there are also moro, or blood oranges, and cara cara oranges. I found this out by going to, which Sunkist is a company that distributes and sells different kinds of oranges. Sunkist oranges come mainly from California and Arizona, but are available all year long. These particular oranges get their vibrant color due to their growing climate, these oranges are never dyed, like many other oranges. For more information on the individual types of oranges, take a look at the website and you will learn all there is to know about them.

Vitamin Water!!

Vitamin water is healthy choice for switching p what you normally drink for something a little different. It is pretty much like drinking water with a little extra something something in it. There is regular vitamin water and vitamin water zero which is the better options. Like the name obviously states, there are zero calories in this great tasting water and it comes in a variety of flavors so there is something for everyone to enjoy. I went to the official Vitamin Water website. There I was able to find out what kind of vitamins it provides your body. Also, drinking this water with vitamins in it as opposed to drinking plain water, your risk of getting cancer can decrease.

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