SJ City Council approves memorial highway for fallen officer

It’s a special honor for a San Jose police officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice. A project has been approved to post signs dedicating a portion of state Highway 87 in downtown San Jose for a fallen officer who died in the line of duty earlier this year.

In a unanimous vote, the City Council approved the Michael Johnson Memorial Highway Project on Highway 87.

Johnson, 38, was fatally shot by an armed suspect who threatened to hurt himself and others on March 24 during a call for service.

The project will "honor Officer Johnson, who could not come home that day," Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, introduced a resolution to the state Legislature that was approved in September dedicating Highway 87 between state Highway 87 and Interstate Highway 280 to the fallen officer.

"During his 14 years of service he became a vital part of his unit and an example of what an officer would strive to be," Campos said.

"These acts serve as a reminder of his service and his sacrifice of our great city," she said.

"I feel so blessed and honored," said Katherine Decker, Johnson's mother, who was present at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

This is the first Christmas Johnson’s mother Katherine Decker will be spending without her son. She said a day doesn't go by she doesn't miss him.

Decker recalled the times she and her son would ride their bikes along Highway 87 before it became a freeway while he was a teenager.

“We were kind of doing it illegally,” said Decker. “There was no freeway traffic and we snuck in and ride our bikes on the freeway there after they were working on it and ride it in the evening before dark. It was awesome. We had a great time riding together. It was our mom and son bonding time," Decker said.

One sign will be posted at northbound Highway 87 at the northbound Capitol Expressway off-ramp and another will be placed at southbound Highway 87 just north of the Highway 280 interchange, according to a memo from police Chief Larry Esquivel.

The Police Department will cover the costs for the signs, which are estimated at $6,000, according to Esquivel.
The chief estimated that the signs would be installed by spring.

City Councilman Raul Peralez, a former San Jose police officer, said many officers use Highway 87 to head back to police headquarters.

"I know this is really going to mean a lot to certainly Mike's family and certainly his friends and all of the officers that will be taking that route," Peralez said.