Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill officer plans to grow community relationship

Police Officer Johnathan Gilbert says he is looking forward to the chance to grow the Fort Mill Police Department’s relationship with residents as he follows in the footsteps of Lt. Ray Dixon.

Gilbert took over as crime prevention specialist, the position left open with Dixon’s retirement, effective May 7. Dixon was the first to hold the position when the Fort Mill Police Department created it eight years ago. Gilbert said his new title encompasses many roles when it comes to community work.

“I want nothing but growth from this position,” he said.

Gilbert said he plans on enhancing the programs Dixon brought to Fort Mill as well as bringing his own ideas to the community.

“I want to make this position more of me,” he said. “There are a lot of things I want do.”

Gilbert said he will focus on programs that allow interaction between officers and youth.

“Building our community begins with our youth,” he said. “If we can affect our youth, then our youth will help make this community better.”

Gilbert worked as a school resource officer at Springfield Middle School and Pleasant Knoll and Springfield elementary schools for six years, a role that allowed him to act as a mentor to students.

“They just wanted somebody to talk to,” he said.

Gilbert also coached girls’ basketball the six years he was in the schools.

“That was an experience in itself,” he said. “Being in the schools was a lot of fun.”

Gilbert graduated from Winthrop University in 2004 with the hope of being a band director, but soon realized he was better fit for law enforcement. He said being a school resource officer allowed him to combine his love of police work with teaching.

“I got the best of both worlds,” he said.

Before coming on with the Fort Mill Police Department in 2006, Gilbert worked with the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services for a year.

“It got my foot in the door for law enforcement,” he said. “I enjoyed working probation, but I wanted to be a police officer.”

When he first started out, Gilbert worked for four years as a shift officer, two on day shift and two on nights.

“That’s where I really fell in love with Fort Mill and the Fort Mill Police Department,” he said.

Gilbert has also worked as a negotiator with York County’s Multi-jurisdictional SWAT team for the past seven years. He began training with Dixon at the end of the last school year to take over as the crime prevention specialist.

“I want to partner with a lot of different organizations to do a lot of different things,” he said.

Gilbert said Dixon brought many good programs to Fort Mill, including Pace Car and the You Could Have Been a Victim forms, a checklist that helps residents realizez how they could be at risk.

“We’re a very proactive department,” Gilbert said. “I want to continue to be proactive in this position.”

Gilbert said he wants to continue the legacy Dixon brought to the community.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with Lt. Dixon and he will be missed by all,” he said.

“I hope I can do just as good if not a better job than he’s done over the course of his career. I love the Fort Mill Police Department; We’re doing a lot of good things and we will continue to do a lot of good things.”

Community award

Officer Johnathan Gilbert was recognized by the Fort Mill Community Optimist Club with a Respect for Law award in May 2015 for his dedicated service and commitment to youth.