Albin Severin Johnson

Aug. 16, 1953 - Jan. 24, 1955
Albin Severin Johnson

On Aug. 16, 1953, Gov. Thomas E. Dewey appointed Lt. Albin S. Johnson, a 20-year New York State Police veteran from Troop K, to succeed retiring Supt. Gaffney.

Born Aug. 12, 1907 in Ballston Spa, NY, he attended Union College in Schenectady and played semi-pro baseball for a time in upstate New York before becoming a trooper on July 16, 1933. He served the State of New York in that capacity for the next 36 years. Promotion typically came slowly in those years, and it was it nine years before he earned his first, to corporal in 1942. After that he rose steadily, however. He was appointed sergeant (BCI) in 1944, sergeant (uniform) in February 1947, 1st sergeant in June 1947, lieutenant in May 1951 and lieutenant (BCI) in October 1951.

Supt. Johnson is perhaps best remembered as the man who graciously stepped aside so a new governor could work with a superintendent of his own choosing. When Gov. W. Averill Harriman took office in January 1955, Supt. Johnson voluntarily returned to his permanent rank of lieutenant and was assigned to Troop G. He continued to serve the state police faithfully earning successive promotions to district inspector (1960) and assistant deputy superintendent (1961). He retired in 1969, and lived in Albany with his wife, Patricia, until he passed away Sept. 20, 1986.

Though his tenure as superintendent was brief, Supt. Johnson presided over several major developments in the state police, including:

  • A 30% expansion in authorized strength during 1953 and 1954,
  • A rededication to highway safety through vigorous selective enforcement and public information campaigns,
  • The establishment of the original NYSP Thruway Detail (June 1954), the forerunner of today's Troop T.

He also oversaw the development and adoption of today's modern NYSP uniform. Under this initiative, the original dark gray 1917-era cavalry-style tunic, riding breeches, leather puttees and spurs were replaced with a lightweight Class A blouse and straight-legged trousers of lighter "State Police Gray", and the anachronistic cross-draw .45-cal. revolver was supplanted by a .38-cal. revolver worn on the right or shooting-hand side.

For the first time, both the uniform shirt and jacket sported a distinctive patch, displaying the New York State seal and legend "New York State Police." The new uniform weighed roughly four pounds less than its predecessor and was substantially more economical to produce. It was worn publicly on duty for the first time in July 1954, when a detail of troopers provided security at the U.S. Governors' Annual Conference in Lake George.