From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Johnson, Bobby Lane, Sr.

(born: January 10, 1953  -  died: February 21, 2020) Bobby Lane Johnson, Sr. was the first African American to become the Chief of Police in Madisonville, KY. There are a number of newspaper articles about his career, and going back to his birth announcement in the 1953 issue of The Madisonville Messenger. In 1967, Bobby Johnson was crowned "Teen Town King" at the opening ceremonies of the youth center on Dickerson Street in Madisonville. He was a multi-sport athlete in school. Johnson graduated from Madisonville North Hopkins High School in 1971 and attended Western Kentucky University for two years. 

Johnson worked at an upholstery shop before he joined the Madisonville Police Department on March 24, 1974. His pay was $2.77 per hour. He was new to police work and trained for six weeks at the Police Academy on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. By 1981, Johnson had obtained the rank of sergeant and he was head of the detective division. He was next promoted to lieutenant, to captain, then became a major in 1995. In 2000, Johnson was named Chief of Police by Madisonville Mayor Karen Cunningham. Bobby L. Johnson, Sr. served with the Madisonville Police Department for 33 years before retiring in 2007.

During his tenure, he was elected to the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Board. In the Madisonville community, he served as president of the Rotary Club, director of the Madison ABA, and vice president of the Rosenwald-Smith Multicultural Center. In 1995, he received the Ernest Mason, Jr. Community Service Award. Johnson was also twice elected to the Madisonville City Council, representing the 6th Ward.

Bobby L. Johnson, Sr. was serving his second term with the City Council when he died in 2020. He was born in Madisonville, KY, the son of William F. and Katherine Jones Johnson. He was the husband of Barbara D. Sherrod Johnson.

Sources: "Records of Birth," Madisonville Messenger, 02/13/1953, p.3; "Teen Town King and Queen," The Messenger, 12/11/1967, p.12; see Captain Bobby Johnson in "Banquet," The Messenger, 02/27/1995, p.12; "Maj. Bobby Johnson," The Messenger, 09/24/1999, p.C8; "Bobby Johnson new chief of MPD," The Messenger, 04/11/2000, front page; "Hopkins County Black History Month Spotlight," The Messenger, 02/07/2020, p.A2; "Deaths: Bobby Lane Johnson Sr.," The Messenger, 02/26/2020, p.A3; see Bobby Lane Johnson, Sr. at Find A Grave.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Hopkins County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Madisonville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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NKAA Source: The Messenger (newspaper) [Madisonville, KY]
NKAA Source: Madisonville messenger (newspaper)

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“Johnson, Bobby Lane, Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-06-09 17:23:52