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Queen's honour for officer determined not to let motor neurone diagnosis 'define his career'


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ACC to receive Queen's Police Medal later this week for 'remarkable contribution' to service.


ACC Chris Johnson: Receiving the QPM on Saturday

An assistant chief living with a terminal illness has achieved royal recognition for his “remarkable contribution” to policing.

ACC Chris Johnson, who has vowed to serve the public for as long as possible despite his Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis, is set to receive a Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service at a special ceremony in Birmingham on Saturday.

A letter from the Home Office announcing the honour relays Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s “appreciation” for the West Midland officer’s 29 years’ service.

It was April last year that the 52-year-old achieved a career ambition in a promotion to assistant chief constable with his hometown force after working his way up from beat bobbie on the streets of Birmingham.

But just months later, having returned from a holiday to Florida to celebrate his promotion, his world came crashing down when he was told he had MND − a terminal condition affecting the brain, spinal cord and nerves that ultimately stops muscles functioning.

He said: “Being appointed assistant chief constable was a hugely proud moment for me – I wasn’t sure it would get much better but receiving this award, especially as it’s nominated by police colleagues, is certainly on a par with that.

“When I got my MND diagnosis I was determined it would not define my policing career. I’ve served the people of the West Midlands for almost three decades; it’s what I’ve achieved over those years that I’ll reflect on and it’s humbling to now have royal recognition. 

“It’s been a genuine honour to have worked with West Midlands Police for so long and I intend to continue doing so for as long as is physically possible.”

In his role he is responsible for the operations portfolio overseeing traffic policing, dogs, response units, contact centre and firearms, plus other specialist police teams.

It’s a busy, demanding job that typically involves long and irregular hours. But ACC Johnson – a former police commander in Birmingham and Dudley – said the force has made some “simple and cheap adaptations” to allow him to continue working.

Since his MND diagnosis, the officer has been helping raise awareness of the illness through a personal force video and an interview on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show.

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I hope that he has many more enjoyable years from his service to come. Being diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition can have it's dark moments between the smiles and publicity he has bravely put forwards, it can be a very lonely place to be.

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