For the second time in two months, Burlington city manager Hardin Watkins has announced the city’s new police chief to succeed Jeff Smythe who retired in May after eight years in the post and who has since accepted a state position.
The new chief is now slated to be Brian Long, a popular, 26-year veteran of the Burlington Police Department; he will be sworn in Tuesday.
Long was Watkins’ second choice, after George “Rich” Austin, Jr., who was selected from a pool of 32 applicants and announced as Watkins’ choice in August, withdrew about three weeks after he was publicly named. Watkins makes no mention of that earlier on-again/off-again decision in today’s announcement about Long’s selection.
Instead, Watkins lauds Long’s history with the department. “He is a talented professional with terrific leadership skills. He understands the needs of his hometown and the agency where he served admirably for 2.5 decades. He has tremendous knowledge of the best practices in modern policing and will hit the ground running. He knows what is important and where to target our efforts.”
“I saw applying for the position as an opportunity to bring stable, consistent leadership to a department and community where I have lived and served for many years, Long said.
Long has been assistant chief over operations since2018; as such, he oversees two-thirds of the staff of the department. In his first 12 years, at the department where he started his law enforcement career, Long served in various roles in patrol and across several investigative teams in the Criminal Investigation Division. Since then, he has served as Operations Captain, Administrative Captain, Operations Lieutenant, and Staff Sergeant.
Long added, “I seek to end my career the way I began my career as a young officer, by working directly with community members seeking a safe place to raise a family, to work, and to enjoy the community they choose to call home. This can be accomplished by building trusting relationships, engaging the community directly, and by implementing innovative and equitable police practices.”
Long is be sworn in at 3:00 Tuesday afternoon at the Municipal Building, Watkins said.
UPDATE: The swearing-in ceremony is being postponed due to “a medical emergency within Chief Brian Long’s immediate family,” the city announced Tuesday morning.