The newest officer to join the ranks of Brookings Police Department will be able to draw on past law enforcement experience as he learns the ins and outs of the job.

Rob Johnson, 42, graduated Dec. 16 from the 16-week Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. He ranked second among 39 officers in course work at the academy.

Johnson is well acquainted with others on the local police force because he was a volunteer reserve officer for two years before taking the step into a new career. He said someone suggested he become a full-time officer and the idea took hold.

"I prayed about it," said Johnson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Brookings Ward. "Saying no didn't feel right."

Besides his reserve officer work, Johnson's background includes counseling and corrections work as a parole agent intern during undergraduate studies at Chico State University. He ended up one class short of a degree there, eventually earning a bachelor of science degree in biological science from Portland State University.

Johnson also has a doctor of chiropractic degree from the University of Western States in Portland.

He'll get on-the-job training during the next few months from officer Matt Potts. Johnson is the fifth trainee of Potts' career and the experienced patrolman said he has skills not normally found in a rookie policeman.

"Rob brings actual real life experience," Potts said. "The younger guys struggle when dealing with people, but Rob has maturity in talking with people."

Potts said day-to-day communication with the public is a large part of a police officer's job.

Another positive aspect about Johnson is that he has roots in Brookings and doesn't plan to leave, Potts added. He said many beginning officers view a stint in Brookings simply as a stepping-stone to a job in a larger city.

Johnson and his wife lived in Portland for eight years but are happy to be on the South Coast.

"I'd rather live here and visit there," Johnson said.

He and his wife have four children.The family enjoys camping and other typical Oregon recreational pursuits, Johnson said.

He has developed a chiropractic practice in town and plans to continue on a part-time basis as time allows.

"There will be times when it will be tough," Johnson said. "But I have some great patients and I don't want to leave them."

He acknowledged that police work carries an inherent danger and said his family accepts that part of the job.

"They're excited for the position but they are aware of the risks," Johnson said.

He'll begin his new career as a patrolman assigned to a variety of tasks, including traffic coverage.

"Eventually I would like to work into a detective role," he said.