For someone as accomplished as Maj. Jon Long, there aren’t too many more goals to be achieved during such an exceptional career in law enforcement. However, there was still one aspiration that had eluded him until the most unexpected of times.
Shortly after he was promoted to lieutenant at the Washington C.H. Police Department, Long put in an application for the FBI National Academy Program, but did not hear anything back.
“So of course after I retired (in April 2017), I thought, ‘Well that dream is dead,’” said Long, who joined the Ross County Sheriff’s Office a few months after retiring from Washington C.H., and is now the commander of the U.S. 23 Major Crimes Task Force. “Then in about October of last year, I got a call from the training coordinator at the FBI Columbus office. When I spoke with her, I explained that my situation had changed, I retired from Court House and I’m employed by Ross. She said that wasn’t a problem, to fill out the application and have (Ross County) Sheriff (George) Lavender sign it to nominate me, and then they would proceed with the background investigation. So all of that transpired in a matter of two or three weeks.”
Long, a Miami Trace High School graduate who worked with the Washington Police Department for just over 36 years, was accepted and then graduated from the 10-week National Academy Session 272 in Quantico, Va. on June 8. He received his diploma from FBI Director Christopher Wray during a ceremony held at the FBI Academy. Wray was also the principal speaker at the ceremony.
“It was the adventure of a lifetime,” Long said. “Academically, physically, it was not what I expected at all. It was circuit training, high intensity interval training, functional movement training, and every workout left you exhausted.”
The session consisted of 232 students from the U.S., including 25 international students. The program serves to improve the administration of justice in police departments and agencies at home and abroad, and to raise law enforcement standards, knowledge, physical fitness and cooperation worldwide.
The course work included courses titled: drugs, society and contemporary drug enforcement strategies, contemporary issues in law enforcement, fitness in law enforcement, legal issues impacting law enforcement operations, essentials for law enforcement leaders, and overview of forensic science for police administrators and managers.
The entire session attended weekly presentations from experienced investigators of significant events in law enforcement during the “Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement” block of instruction.
Some of the notable speakers included: Mark Geist, who gave a report on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi; Aaron Likens, who spoke about how police should interview witnesses and defendants with autism; and Chief Jon Belmar, who discussed “de-policing and crime in the wake of Ferguson.”
Long also wrote a paper on one of the presentations, which included an international panel.
“What caught my attention about that was in the UK, all officers are paid the same…patrol officers regardless of where they worked, they’re all paid the same,” he said. “Mid-level supervisors are all paid the same. Upper management all paid the same. So there is really no disparity in salary or benefits. If that could occur in the United States, it would certainly eliminate what we’re experiencing locally with Ross, Fayette and Court House. We hire these new officers, but because of the low salaries and their non-competitive benefits, we lose them to other agencies that pay higher salaries and have better benefits. So I researched the disparity in salary and benefits, did the paper on that and I got maximum points for it.”
Long said all of the guest speakers were “just phenomenal.”
“One common theme that came from all the speakers was collaboration among agencies, not only before a major event but certainly during a major event. Because if you have a major event…and there’s no community that’s immune from experiencing one whether it’s a bombing or shooting, etc., you will need as many people on the ground as possible,” he said. “Evidence technicians, investigators doing follow-up, investigation with witnesses and suspects. So probably one of the most important benefits or of equal importance was the networking with officers throughout the United States and the world.”
The courses at the academy are accredited through the University of Virginia with each student receiving 17 hours of credit. There is a significant emphasis on fitness in law enforcement. Each week of training includes a weekly fitness challenge drawing a name from the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” ending with the “Yellow Brick Road,” a 6.1-mile obstacle course designed by the Marines.
Training for the program is provided by the FBI Academy instructional staff, special agents, and other staff members holding advanced degrees, many of whom are recognized internationally in their fields of expertise. Since 1972, National Academy students have been able to earn undergraduate and graduate credits from the University of Virginia due to the accreditation by the university of the many courses offered.
To put Long’s accomplishment into perspective, less than 1 percent of law enforcement in the world are selected to attend the National Academy, which is often referred to as the “West Point for law enforcement officers.” The only other law enforcement officers from Fayette County to graduate from the academy are: Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, retired police chief Bill Robinson, former police chief Larry Walker (deceased), former sheriff Bill Crooks (deceased), retired police captain Mike Stritenberger, and retired chief deputy Alan Witherspoon.
“It’s without a doubt one of the top achievements of my career,” Long said. “To be nominated and accepted, it’s quite an honor and achievement not only for myself, but for the Ross County Sheriff’s Office.”