When the White House called some of the nation's major law enforcement associations with a heads-up that the president would tap Jeh (JAY) Johnson to run the Homeland Security Department, the response on the other end of the line was brief: Who?

The former Pentagon lawyer and longtime Barack Obama supporter is not a household name throughout the 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the country. Those agencies are considered among the Homeland Security Department's most important partners.

The White House has made Johnson available to police executives for phone calls, and letters of support were promised two weeks after Obama announced the nomination. Getting law enforcement support was critical for the White House, because the department needs their cooperation for its mission to be carried out effectively.