Burlington police chief to retire

Burlington police chief Brian Long has announced his intention to retire from atop the department where he’s worked his entire 28-year law enforcement career this summer.

Long was named the city’s top law enforcement official in October 2021 by then-city manager Hardin Watkins after the first designee for the job, a chief from Georgia who had accepted the post, backed out.

Long had not applied for the job during the first application period, but did during the follow-up series.

A native of Burlington, Long began his career with the Burlington police department in January 1995 as a regular beat cop in the patrol unit.

[Story continues below photos.]

Above (and below), Long making presentations to Burlington’s city council over the past year and a half as the city’s top law enforcement official.

Now retired-chief deputy Cliff Parker with area police chiefs during a retirement luncheon for a sheriff’s department veteran in 2021: Brian Long of Burlington; Ron Parrish of Gibsonville; and Toby Harrison of Haw River.
Burlington police chief Brian Long rang the bell for the Salvation Army at the Walmart on Garden Road on Saturday, December 10, 2022, challenging the sheriff to see who could raise the most money.

Long embarked on a career in public safety not long after he graduated from Western High School in 1990. The future police chief initially studied criminal justice technology at Alamance County College before he matriculated to Mt. Olive University, where went on to receive a B.A. in criminology and criminal justice.

It wasn’t long after he began work at the Burlington police department before he was promoted to the department’s investigative division, where he wound up assigned to two federal details – a DEA task force as a narcotics investigator and an anti-fraud squad that reported to the U.S. Secret Service.

Long expanded his experience with the feds even further in 2014 when he did a turn in Quantico, Virginia as participant in the FBI’s 258th National Academy.

By the time he left Quantico, Long had already begun his ascent through the leadership ranks of the city’s police department. As a member of the agency’s top brass, as an assistant chief, the city’s future police chief had been a leading exponent in the use of intelligence as a crime-fighting tool.

He has been particularly instrumental in shifting the department’s strategy for personnel allocation from a traditional model based on incident reports to one that relies on intelligence about violent crimes to distribute patrol officers.

Long has also been an advocate of better, more innovative responses to mental health crises and has spearheaded the department’s co-responder program, which pairs officers with mental health professionals when they go out on mental health calls.

Since he became chief, Long has faced the challenge of filling, and keeping filled, positions in the department.  He persuaded the city council to implement a series of raises intended to improve recruitment and retention.

Just last week, he told the council those measures have begun to pay off.

Over the past year or so, Long and his colleagues have floated several measures to relieve the staffing crisis – including an across-the-board pay-raise of nearly $9,000 that the council agreed to extend to all of the city’s police officers this past November.

According to the city’s police chief, these assorted responses appear to be turning the tide in his agency’s ongoing efforts to attract the best and the brightest.

During last week’s council meeting, Long reported that he recently expanded his payroll by 32 officers – including 4 lateral hires from other law enforcement agencies. Long added that the remaining 28 newcomers are either in field training or taking classes in basic law enforcement – while 5 other prospects may  be on the verge of making a similar commitment to work for his agency.

“Our retention also seems to be headed the right way,” the city’s police chief went on to assure the council. “So, all indications are positive.”

Appointment of a successor to Long will be determined by city manager Craig Honeycutt.

Much of the speculation, before and since Long’s announcement, has focused on Alan Balog, another Burlington native who has risen through the ranks of the department before being named one of two assistant chiefs last spring.  Balog is the son of retired superior court judge Steve Balog and his wife Susan of Burlington.

Long did not state a specific date for retirement, according to city officials, but set “June” as his intended retirement window.

Read background on Long’s original appointment, swearing in, etc.:

New chief is homegrown, an interview with the new chief (Oct. 28, 2021): https://alamancenews.com/new-police-chief-is-home-grown/

New chief sworn in (Oct. 29, 2021): https://alamancenews.com/burlingtons-new-police-chief-sworn-in-during-fri-afternoon-ceremony/

City manager announces new police chief – again (October 15, 2021): https://alamancenews.com/burlington-names-new-police-chief-again/