Steve Johnston – Memorial

Former SCAA Board member Steven James Johnston, age 60 died of a heart attack on May 31st, at his home in Rochester, MN. Steve was involved with SCAA since its infancy and provided insight and passion to our Board deliberations and to the organization as a whole. He was instrumental in creating our Recognition program for Rescuers and Survivors of SCAA.

Steve is survived by the love his life of 28 years, Connie, and two adoring children: Matthew, Jennifer and her husband Scott, who he loved like a son. He leaves behind four siblings and many nieces and nephews. Steve is preceded in death by his parents: Gordon and Bettie Johnston and two siblings.

Steve made incredible contributions to society during his 35 year career in Law Enforcement. He started working at age 16 as a dispatcher for the Tracy Police Department. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement and Corrections from Mankato State University, graduating magna cum laude. He then accepted a position as a patrol officer with the Rochester Police Department. Over the years he moved up the ranks and ended his career as Deputy Chief. Steve attended the FBI National Academy and a graduate program in Law Enforcement Administration.

One of Steve’s greatest contributions was development of the Early Defibrillation Program. This is a police-based defibrillation program that is now considered the most effective program in the world. In Rochester alone, it has saved the lives of more than 250 people. Steve dedicated a lot of his time and energy helping other police departments around the world implement similar life-saving programs. His influence and efforts in raising funds for defibrillators and training for police officers is unprecedented, and has helped save thousands of lives each year.

Steve had many other significant career accomplishments, far too many to list, but to name a few; he automated the issuance of parking citations and warrants, constructed the Animal Control Shelter, developed the Communications Unit, obtained $200,000+ in grant funding for automatic vehicle location equipment, testified before the MN Legislature to help get funding for the purchase of defibrillators for the MN State Patrol, drafted and helped enact MN Statue 609.505 subdivision 2 making it a crime to falsely accuse police of misconduct, and upgraded Rochester’s 9-1-1 system. As a true public servant, he was an avid volunteer, served on many boards, committees, and took on several leadership roles within those organizations.

Most importantly, Steve was a devoted Christian and loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He loved helping friends, family, and even strangers however he could. He was extremely humble and his kindness and dedication to others was second to none. Steve had an amazing sense of humor and loved to joke around.

Public visitation will be held Tuesday, June 6 at the Autumn Ridge Timothy Chapel 3611 Salem Road SW, Rochester, from 5-7 pm and one hour before the funeral service held at 11 am on Wednesday, June 7 in the main auditorium of Autumn Ridge Church. Memorials may be made to the family who will disperse among his favorite causes.

Online condolences are welcome at