VACP Past President Chief Frank W. Johnstone Passes Away

Chief Johnstone was President of the VACP from 1985-86. Prior to serving as Albemarle County Police Chief from 1984-1989, Chief Johnstone served with the Maine State Police, the Charlottesville Police Department, and the University of Virginia Police Department.

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Retired Chief Frank W. Johnstone, 1985-86 VACP President. Frank was 88 years old when he passed away on July 3rd.

Frank served as Chief of the University of Virginia Police Department and then as Chief of the Albemarle County Police Department. After retiring from policing, Frank worked for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services for many years. 

Frank was a strong supporter of encouraging women in law enforcement. In his memory, the VACP has created a fund to support our efforts to hold training for women and support women in law enforcement attending leadership schools. To make a tax-deductible contribution to this fund, CLICK HERE.

We found a wonderful article about Frank in the Fall 1986 VACP magazine, Virginia Police Chief, that we wanted to share with you below.

Statement from Albemarle County Police Department

"It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Frank W. Johnstone, retired ACPD Chief of Police. Chief Johnstone passed away on July 3, 2023, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of leadership and progressive initiatives.
"He accepted the position of Chief of Police in 1984, joining ACPD at a pivotal moment as our organization underwent a significant transformation from a Sheriff's Office to a county police department. His expertise and guidance were invaluable during this pivotal time, ensuring a seamless transition and setting the stage for future success.
"Prior to his time with our department, Chief Johnstone served with the Maine State Police, the Charlottesville Police Department, and the University of Virginia Police Department, where he demonstrated his exceptional leadership abilities and dedication to this profession.
"During his tenure with ACPD, Chief Johnstone championed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, playing a pivotal role in educating and empowering young people to make positive life choices. His commitment to diversity and gender equality was evident in his promotion of the first female supervisor in the history of ACPD, and his progressive mindset and belief in equal opportunities for all paved the way and inspired future generations of law enforcement professionals.
"In addition to his many accomplishments, Chief Johnstone dedicated his time and expertise to the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and served as its President from 1985-1986.
"Chief Frank W. Johnstone's visionary leadership, unwavering dedication, and profound impact will be remembered by all who had the privilege of working alongside him. We extend our deepest condolences to Chief Johnstone's family, friends, and former colleagues during this difficult time."


Article from the Fall 1986 Virginia Police Chief

Frank W. Johnstone, Chief, Albemarle County

" ... In spite of the fact that law enforcement can be very frustrating at times, it's a challenge and there are a lot of intrinsic rewards."
Although the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police has obviously progressed considerably under his leadership, Albemarle County Police Chief Frank W. Johnstone isn't one to boast nor blame.
He doesn't single out any specific achievements as he prepares to step down after a year as president, and he doesn't give any indication of goals not met.
However, he does say, "It's very important that members of the Association try to be as supportive of the Association as they can. Nothing gets accomplished -- nothing can get accomplished -- unless we have the support of most of the membership. 
"Our organizational setup is such that as past president I'll continue for one more year as a member of the Executive Board. But when my time on the Board is over, I don't plan to hide. I plan to stay involved and be supportive of the Association." 
A brief review of his background shows that Chief Johnstone has been involved and a consistent achiever for sometime. 
He was born May 1, 1935 in Boston and moved to Rockport, Maine as a 10th grader. There were only 10 students in his 1952 graduating class at Rockport High, but Harvard recognized his potential by inviting him to join their incoming freshman class.
Unable to attend college at that time because of financial reasons, he went to work selling plumbing and heating supplies wholesale for a hardware firm. In 1953, he married the former Phyllis Simonton of Rockport (and they now have three children and 10 grandchildren). 
Johnstone had a good friend who was a Maine state trooper and, in 1957, he had had his interest stimulated enough that he decided to file application. He was one of about 1,500 who took the initial examination and one of about 50 accepted. He admits that he almost didn't make it -- he weighed 135 pounds at the time of the test in May or June, and he needed to weigh at least 180 pounds by the time he reported for basic training in August.
As a trooper, he was stationed in Orono for three years. "I enjoyed law enforcement," he says, "but, then, I got the itch to go to college." 

In September 1960, he and his family left for Utah and Brigham Young University. Why BYU? "Well, it was a church-related institution and the cost was reasonable. I also had some friends who had attended the "Y" and they spoke highly of it." 
He earned his Bachelor's degree in political science and had begun work on his Masters when he was given the opportunity to join the faculty. "I think one of the professors didn't show up at the last minute," he recalls, "so I was given the fortuitous opportunity to teach government for two years while I completed my Masters in political science and history." 
Johnstone planned at the time to continue his education with a Doctorate degree. "We had several good opportunities available to us," he says, including an almost fully paid one at Syracuse. "However, my wife and I did a lot of praying about it and we decided on the University of Virginia." 
After one year (1968) working on a doctorate program involving government and foreign affairs, he decided "it just wasn't for me. I enjoyed the teaching, and the counseling with students, but not the research and writing. 
"So, I looked around for some law enforcement opportunities and ended up in Charlottesville with the Eighth District Juvenile Domestic Relations Court as a probation officer. This was interesting work. There were a lot of heartaches involved and few good experiences, but the good experiences were enough to offset the others. The work gave me a great appreciation for those who stay in a position like that" 
After a couple of years, 1971, he went to work with the Division of Justice and Crime Prevention (now known as the Department of Criminal Justice Services) in Richmond. However, he found as a research analyst he was spending most of his time working on juvenile court programs and that wasn't exactly what he was looking for. 
In 1972, what he calls a "good opportunity" came along back in Charlottesville. Charlottesville Police Chief John deKoven Bowen offered him the position of administrative assistant, a sworn position and one he kept for five years before accepting the position as Director of Police with the University of Virginia. 
Approximately seven years later, Johnstone was employed in February 1984 as an assistant chief to Sheriff George Bailey pending the July 1 establishment of the Albemarle County Police Department. When the department came into being, Johnstone was appointed as its first chief with 34 sworn police officers.
He now has 49 officers serving a 65,000 population in a 750-square mile county. 
"I thoroughly enjoyed teaching," he says and, in fact, he still teaches parttime at Piedmont Community College, "but I can't think of anything else I would rather do than what I'm doing. In spite of the fact that law enforcement can be very frustrating at times, it's a challenge and there are a lot of intrinsic rewards." 
Although he finds little time for the pursuit of personal hobbies, he says he loves to read and he loves to run "but, unfortunately, I haven't done much of either in the last few years." He also considers himself sort of a movie buff although his wife calls it "escapism." Among his favorite books are historicals and spy novels and Mad magazine. 
He also enjoys reading about President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a former New York police conuruss1oner. "He was always trying to accomplish a lot of good things for law enforcement," he says, "and here it is 80 years later, and we're still trying to accomplish some of the same things. 
"I particularly enjoyed his philosophy with regard to law enforcement He always believed in treating everyone the same -- with the same personal dignity -- regardless of their station in life while, at the same time, he was strong on law and order." 
One particular quote Chief Johnstone recalled from President Roosevelt is, or should be, as true today as it was then: "No man is above the law and no man below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor." 
Another particularly poignant comment from President Roosevelt which Chief Johnstone didn't mention, but one which strikes the author of this article as a challenging conclusion, is: "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." 



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