Burlington promotes 26-year veteran to new police chief

BURLINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Burlington announced Friday that Assistant Police Chief Brian P. Long, a 26-year veteran of the force, has been selected to be the next police chief of the Burlington Police Department.

Long will succeed Chief Jeffrey Smythe, who retired earlier in 2021.

Long will be sworn in at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Municipal Building in downtown Burlington. The outdoor ceremony is open to the public.

It almost never happened. After Smythe's retirement, Rich Austin, chief of police in Milton, Georgia, accepted the chief's job in Burlington. However, Austin backed out, citing a family matter.

That prompted a new search and Long, who had not previously applied, reconsidered.

"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. "I have been a proud member of the department's leadership team for 14 years. Daily, I serve alongside dedicated and innovative staff members who seek to deliver a high level of professional police service. I am excited to continue working with all staff as we constantly strive to improve safety across our community."

Long has served in many roles with the department. Since 2018, he has served as the Assistant Chief of Police over Operations, supervising two-thirds of the staff of the department.

"I am thrilled that Brian Long has agreed to serve as the City's Police Chief," said City Manager Hardin Watkins "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."
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