The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, law enforcement from around the state, and the community at large gave a stately send off to Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson on Wednesday, May 24 with a multitude of mourners in attendance.
The services began with a procession that stretched down Coffee Road in Modesto and ended with several dozen white doves released at her graveside service at Lakewood Memorial. In between, the community learned of Johnson's passion for her job and her larger than life personality.
Johnson, along with Deputy Jason Garner, died in a solo vehicle collision on May 13 in Modesto, while in route to a burglary call. The collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
Johnson's career with the sheriff's department began 15 years ago when she worked as a clerk. She was eventually promoted to a CSO position and spent the majority of her position assigned to Patterson, which contracts with the sheriff's department for police services.
Chief Jeff Dirkse worked with Johnson for two years and almost immediately gave her the nickname of Rascal after his phone auto-corrected Johnson's first name. He told the crowd Wednesday at the House Church that the nickname fit Johnson's personality perfectly.
"She had a strong personality," Dirkse recalled.
"Sometimes I wasn't sure who was the chief in Patterson, me or her."
Johnson left an indelible mark on Patterson during her time there. She never missed an Apricot Fiesta or back to school event and took great pride in boosting the town's participation in the National Night Out event. Her greatest joy came from the Shop with a Cop event held each year around Christmas and loved organizing the shopping and pizza party.
"Her dedication was second to none and she did great work," Dirkse said. She was a great partner, a great friend, and a great CSO."
Johnson's last day in Patterson was on May 12. On May 13, she started her new position in the sheriff's department Modesto office as a trainer for future community service officers.
Johnson was 42 years old at the time of her passing. She is survived by her husband Michael Johnson, children Kaitlyn Weiss, Matthew Johnson and Braedan Johnson, parents Ron and Sharon Weiss, and brother Philip Weiss.
A memorial fund was established in Johnson's name. People wishing to donate can go to any Golden 1 Credit Union branch and ask for the Raschel Johnson Memorial Fund (Account # 1982022). A Go Fund Me page is available at https://www.gofundme.com/memorial-fund-for-cso-johnson.
Donations can also be mailed to the Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association, P.O. Box 2314, Ceres, CA 95307.