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Long retires from police academy
Local students’ grades among highest in Virginia, Long says
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Charles Long is shown at the Piedmont Criminal Justice Training Academy, where he retired as director Aug. 31. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, September 2, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Charles Long has retired after nearly 14 years as director of the Piedmont Regional Criminal Justice Academy.

Long, 64, began working in his current position about three months after his first retirement in 1999 as assistant chief of the Martinsville Police Department.

“I guaranteed them three years” when he started the job, Long said. Dec. 1 would have marked his 14th year in the post.

But even before that — and through his work at the police department — Long and many others worked to make the academy a stand-alone entity rather than a satellite of the New River Justice Academy.

In 1997, the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) fulfilled that request, and “we broke away from the New River” and became the Piedmont Regional Criminal Justice Academy, he said.

The academy holds basic training for personnel working in various areas of law enforcement and training for correctional officers and 911 communications officers. It also offers all types of in-service classes/specialized classes.

At the time, the academy was housed in what Long estimated to be a 1,000-square-foot building on Third Street. “It had four little rooms and four little bathrooms,” he said.

“We had looked all over the place” for a new facility and in many other jurisdictions, including Danville, Patrick and Pittsylvania counties, Long said. “We wanted to keep it centrally located, and one day, Steve Eanes, who was then the public safety director, and myself” discussed “kind of jokingly” the possibility of locating the academy in the Henry County Public Safety Complex, Long said. The complex is at the former DuPont site.

Later, then-Henry County Administrator Benny Summerlin made a similar suggestion, and a deal was brokered between the county and the academy in which the county would pay for a building to house the academy and then lease the building to the academy, Long said. After 20 years, that contract can be re-negotiated, he added.

In 2007, the academy moved into a new $1.2-million, 10,000-square-foot facility built alongside the county’s public safety offices, he said.

“We’ve come a long way because of the people I work with, the board and the professionals here,” Long said. “We have a great board of directors, and they have really worked with me” to better the academy.

“We got a lot of new technology equipment” for the new building with a $50,000 grant, as well as several other grants to buy training equipment, Long said of weapons, defensive tactics training gear and other items.

“I’ve been very conservative with the money, and we’ve still got a lot of new equipment and a nice new academy,” he said.

The academy is one of 10 certified by Virginia. It serves about a dozen agencies’ jurisdictions, including the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Martinsville Police Department, Patrick County Sheriff’s Office, Martinsville Sheriff's Office and Martinsville Henry County 911 Center, Long said. It is overseen by a board of directors made up of the police chiefs, sheriffs and emergency services directors of the various jurisdictions, and it is funded with fees from member agencies, grants, DCJS funds and a portion of fines for some misdemeanors, Long said.

“We are recognized as one of the best academies in the state,” Long said. “Our students have had some of the highest grades in Virginia,” he added.

With all those achievements during his tenure, Long said it will be difficult to leave. He officially retired Saturday.

When he retired from the police department in 1999, “I loved my job as a police officer. The city treated me good,” but after 26 years, Long said he was “kind of worn out.” He wanted to remain in law enforcement at the time, and he doesn’t feel any better about leaving the field now, Long said.

In retirement, Long said he plans to help his son at a collision and body repair shop, spend time with his family and travel, he said.

But, he’s quick to add that “I will miss the people. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay in law enforcement. I’ve made a lot of good friends,” Long said.

Although he will maintain his certification as a law enforcement officer, he views his second retirement a little differently than his first.

“This time, I’m almost 65. I’ve had a good, long career,” he said.

 

 
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