By Randy Bell
Police work and pageants might seem worlds apart. But Amanda Johansson is finding success in both, as a detective for the Clinton Police Department and as the newly-crowned Miss Mississippi for America Strong.
The Board of Aldermen honored Johansson at its May 2 meeting. She will compete in the national pageant for the title of Miss for America Strong in Las Vegas in August. It’s the unmarried division of the Mrs. America organization, providing pageant opportunities for women who are single, divorced or widowed with no age cap, other than a minimum age of eighteen.
“I’m just having fun and trying to enjoy the experience,” Johansson says. “I think this was just a bucket list thing for me. I actually grew up here in Clinton helping backstage at the Junior Miss pageant and a little bit at the Miss Clinton pageant. I’ve always wanted to be on stage in a sparkly dress, and wearing a gun and a badge and polyester really doesn’t give you that opportunity.”
When she was first approached about competing in a pageant a few years ago, Johansson declined. But she finally decided, “Let’s do this. And I think I’ve kind of learned from the whole experience that pageants aren’t what people think they are. They are a confidence-building program.”
Johansson says the police department has embraced her successful quest for a crown and her efforts now to bring home a national title.
“They’re good with it,” she says. But she admits some of her fellow officers have had fun with her pageant preparations. “Because I’d be like, ‘I gotta go shopping for a dress. I gotta go get my hair done.’ And they’re like, ‘Of course you do.’”
There’s a serious side to all this. As a detective, Johansson deals mainly with sex crimes and crimes against children, and she recently graduated from an FBI hostage negotiator class. An avid motorcyclist, she co-founded a nonprofit, Bikers Against Trafficking-Mississippi. And as a pageant contestant, she’s made the fight against human trafficking her platform.
“This pageant does actually emphasize your platform, what you stand for and what you kind of represent. For me, that is not only law enforcement and women in law enforcement, but it’s about the victims of human trafficking and the specific struggles that they have. Mississippi just doesn’t have a lot of resources to be able to help them.”