If I liked being called a bitch to my face, I'd still be married!

— Brenda (“The Closer (Pilot)”)

Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is the Commanding Officer of the LAPD's Major Crimes Division (formerly known as the Priority Homicide Division) during The Closer.

She is an intelligent, determined, and exacting woman who may offend some people involved in her cases, or coworkers, but she has powerful skills to determine the facts of a crime, compel confessions, and close cases. Thus, she is "a closer".

Character Information[edit | edit source]

An expert at interrogations, Brenda has a long history in law enforcement. She worked for the police in Atlanta, where she is born and raised, and later for the U.S. State Department as well as the CIA. She was married at one point to a co-worker in Atlanta, but it ended in divorce.

In March of 1997 in Washington D.C., Brenda met Will Pope for the first time when she was assigned as the US Department of State liaison officer to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC) where Pope was the Deputy Chief. She got along with him great and Pope convinced her to leave her job at the State Department and she subsequently joined the MPDC. This was also the time when Brenda and Pope had an affair, unbeknownst to Brenda at the time that Pope was married. (“Help Wanted”)

In “Manhunt”, Brenda is attacked by serial killer Danny Jones, also known as the PCH Killer who she is forced to kill in self-defense. At the same time, Brenda learns that she is in early-onset menopause and Fritz proposes to her. In “Blindsided”, Brenda is put on leave by a psychiatrist due to her traumatic experience and refusal to deal with it. While doing a ride-along with a pair of journalists, Brenda's car is shot up, killing one journalist wounding the other and nearly hitting her and David Gabriel. After a confrontation with the killer in an elevator, Brenda finally accepts that she is not alright and later tells her parents about her engagement, learning that her mother knew already.

In the fifth season, Brenda allows her niece, Charlene "Charlie" Johnson (portrayed by Kyra Sedgwick's real life daughter Sosie Bacon) to stay with her for awhile at the request of her family. In “Maternal Instincts”, Brenda uses Charlie to get information from Jake Burrell, a victim of a school shooting, causing a strain in her relationship with Charlie. Jake later develops a fatal infection from his gunshot wound and Brenda gets the information needed to catch his killer, Jake's girlfriend's brother, by speaking with Jake after Charlie warns her of his state. With Jake's mother too far away to reach him in time, Brenda stays at his bedside all night long and in the morning pretends to be his mother to comfort a delirious Jake in his final moments. Jake dies with Brenda at his side and his death deeply affects both Brenda and Charlie who cared deeply for the boy.

In “The Big Bang”, the Major Crimes Division moves with into the new LAPD headquarters, the Police Administration Building. Brenda is less than pleased with the new accommodations, stating that it had been designed by someone who had no understanding of police work. When Brenda began modifying the building, for instance changing their visitors conference room to a interrogation room, Chief Pope was less than pleased and told Brenda to adapt to the building, not adapt the building to her. Pope's "wise words" were somewhat ironic as Brenda noted that Pope himself had removed a wall separating his conference room and his office. Pope told Brenda that there was going to be a big announcement and because of that, Brenda and Major Crimes should act like the building is perfect in every way. At the end of the episode, Chief Edward Thompson announces his retirement from the department and the Major Crimes squad believes that Pope is going to be the new Chief of Police, which is most likely the reason he likes the new building so much.

Starting in “Help Wanted”, Captain Sharon Raydor starts interviewing Pope's direct subordinates, including Brenda, as a background check for the job as Chief of Police. Unbeknownst to Pope, Capt. Raydor interviewed Brenda because the Mayor and the Police Commission want a strong female candidate in the search for the new Chief, and as Brenda is the highest ranking female in the LAPD, she is being given the opportunity to run for Chief. In “Jump the Gun”, Pope is devastated to hear that his name is not on the shortlist for the new Chief but Brenda's name is, even though he has worked his entire life for the opportunity. In “Executive Order”, Deputy Chief Thomas Delk is appointed as the Chief of Police and is going to demote Pope to Captain, though Brenda is going to remain as a Deputy Chief and in charge of Major Crimes.

In “Drug Fiend”, while struggling with her father's recovery, Brenda is able to get a cancer specialist, formerly a suspect in a case, to take him as a patient. Subsequently, in “Last Rites”, Brenda struggles to balance taking care of her father and searching for a killer. As a result, she ignores her mother's repeated attempts to speak with her, putting the conversation off until the next morning. When she attempts to wake her mother to have the conversation the next morning, Brenda finds that her mother has died in her sleep.

In “Armed Response”, Brenda returns from bereavement leave early to investigate the murder of a decorated war hero. After getting annoyed by DDA Claire Baldwin always hanging around, Brenda learns that an DDA being attached to Major Crimes is one of the compromises Pope made to keep the division and Brenda. Additionally, Pope reveals that Brenda was originally meant to take the Assistant Chief's job but her actions have resulted in it going to Taylor. After David Gabriel's fiancé is revealed to be the leak, Brenda is forced to confront her guilt over what happened with Turrell Baylor and she refuses to let David quit, admitting that she's starting to feel that she spends more time caring about what murderers have to say than the living. After finally returning home for the first time since her mother's death, Brenda breaks down in Fritz's arms.

At the end of The Closer, she wanted to capture Phillip Stroh by any means necessary, leading her to assault him. Brenda, knowing she will lose her job, retires from the LAPD and accepts a new job as the Chief of the District Attorney's Office's Bureau of Investigation. While its more administrative, she can still work in the field sometimes if she so chooses. She also has David Gabriel transferred there to act as liaison officer for the LAPD.

In Season 3 of Major Crimes, Fritz tells the team she's considering a new job in Washington, DC. However, Fritz gets a job as the Deputy Chief in charge of the LAPD's Special Operations Bureau and it is unknown how it affects her choice. She is also unaware that Fritz had a heart attack and now needs a pacemaker with only Michael Tao knowing.

In “Sanctuary City, Part 1”​, after Phillip Stroh's possible return, a protection detail is ordered for Brenda as well as Emma Rios, Rusty Beck and possibly Linda Rothman.

In “By Any Means, Part 3”​, while putting on a show for Stroh and his accomplice Dylan Baxter, Fritz states that all security details will be pulled back. The detectives "angrily," as part of the show, point out that the detail on Brenda is unlikely to be pulled back by Fritz.

In “By Any Means, Part 4”​, after Stroh is killed by Rusty, Fritz tells the young man that Brenda had a hard time processing the news that Stroh was finally gone as well.

Officer-involved shootings[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In “Help Wanted”, Capt. Raydor noted that Brenda was the highest ranking female officer in the entire LAPD.
  • Brenda has three brothers, Clay Jr, Bobby and Jimmy. Clay Jr. is married to a woman named Amy. Bobby is married to a woman named Joyce, and they have a daughter, Charlene, named after Brenda's paternal grandmother. Jimmy lives in a small apartment in New York with his partner Frank.
  • Brenda's niece, Charlene "Charlie" Johnson was sent to her grandparents, Clay Sr. and Willie Rae, when her parents, Bobby and Joyce, became tired of her. When her grandparents also got tired of her, they sent her to her aunt Brenda and her husband, Fritz. She eventually was sent home to her parents, after Brenda straightened her up.
  • Brenda's favorite merlot is a McCray Ridge 1997. (“To Protect & to Serve”)
  • In “Reloaded”​, the Major Crimes series premiere, its revealed that Brenda left her desk full of snack food. She later sends Fritz to clear it out, though he gives one to Captain Sharon Raydor who later gives it to Rusty Beck.

Career Information[edit | edit source]

  • When in uniform, Brenda wears four service stripes on her uniform. Each stripe represents five years of service in the LAPD which which would mean 20-24 years of service, even though she had only served for seven years at the time of her retirement at the end of The Closer. Her previous positions in law-enforcement throughout the country are most likely the reason for her stripes. (Last seen in "Repeat Offender"; July, 2011.)
    • Interestingly, this same courtesy is not extended to her husband, Fritz Howard, when he was appointed as the Deputy Chief in charge of the Special Operations Bureau in Season 3 of Major Crimes. Fritz had served 27 years with the FBI but didn't receive any service stripes for his uniform.
  • Medals and service awards worn by Chief Johnson: (“Repeat Offender”)
Ribbon Award name
LAPD-Police-Medal-for-Heroism.png Police Medal

The Police Medal is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for individual acts of heroism in the line of duty, though not above and beyond the call of duty, as is required for the Medal of Valor.

  • Goof: Colors were the wrong way round, white on the left and red on the right.
LAPD-Human-Relations-Medal.png Human Relations Medal

The Human Relations Medal is awarded to officers who have in their day‑to‑day activities shown great compassion and have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their response to fellow human beings.

LAPD-Police-Life-Saving-Medal.png Police Life Saving Medal

The Police Life Saving Medal is an award for bravery, usually awarded to officers for taking action in order to rescue or attempt the rescue of either a fellow officer or any person from imminent danger.

LAPD-Sharpshooter-Marksmanship-Badge.png Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge

Officers must score 340 out of a possible 400 points in the voluntary bonus qualification shoots (held every month). Officers who have qualified as Sharpshooters receive $16 in compensation in their bi-weekly paychecks.

Characters — The Closer
Brenda Leigh JohnsonSharon RaydorFritz HowardWill PopeRussell TaylorLouie ProvenzaAndy FlynnMichael TaoDavid GabrielJulio SanchezIrene DanielsBuzz WatsonDr. Fernando Morales
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