“If my daughter decided she wanted to do this I would be proud. Worried, but proud.”
That’s Ranger Tamsen Johnson talking about how she feels about her job.
In this week’s Behind the Badge report – ABC4’s Don Hudson shares her story.
BLM Ranger Tamsen Johnson patrols by truck, by ATV and on foot, for the most part, alone. “We don’t patrol in pairs.” “We are lone rangers – we are always by ourselves you know. Dealing with people that are going to outlining places.”
Ranger Johnson is a steward of federal land – keeping an eye on it and making sure the public is educated on how to treat it. “Being able to be part of protecting that so my kids will be able to use it one day and my grandkids that’s a big deal for me.” She is just one of 12 BLM Rangers in Utah and she helps cover 3.2 million acres of land in a dozen counties. Watching out for people and animals. “Its a safe place for them without the motor vehicles.”
As much as she loves her job, this is not where she pictured herself when she went off to college.
“I was a health education major and one day I was sitting in class and I said – I don’t want to do this. My heart is in criminal justice and law enforcement – that’s what I want to do.”
And she thought she knew where she wanted to work.
“I wanted to become a deputy. I wanted to join a sheriff’s department and do more mainstream police work.”
She says that decision was no doubt influenced by the fact her father was a police officer. That said – he wasn’t real happy about her decision.
“He was not all that jazzed about me becoming a police officer.”
That comment was followed by laughter as she thought about that memory. But she was jazzed. And after an internship and training out in Georgia – she was assigned to Utah where she immediately became part of the law enforcement brother and sisterhood.
“Our working relationship with Tooele County and Utah County – and – they are fantastic. We know if we get in trouble they come for us. They back us up. We back them up.”
For the most part, she has avoided extremely tense and dangerous situations, but she says she has had a few scares during her 13-year career. Like the time she helped with a felony traffic stop.
“You run through 18 different scenarios in your head – if this happens I’m going to do this. If this happens I’m going to do that. I still remember that day, actually. It was very clear. That was really scary. But my training kicked in and I was able to think clearly and logically through it.”
While this lone ranger doesn’t ride a white horse – she does have a white truck and she says she’s just as ready to serve and protect.
Ranger Johnson is the only female BLM ranger in Utah and she is one of 18 BLM female rangers across the country.
To see Don’s Behind the Badge stories – and to nominate someone for a future story go to http://www.abc4.com/badge