When Captain Mark Long of the Richmond Hill Police Department described the qualities of a good police officer, he probably didn’t mean to be describing himself. In his own words, Long said a good officer is always conscious of the community and knows a lot about the community.
"A good officer is sensitive to the needs of the community," Long said.
It is just such concern that made Long the recipient of the 2007 Officer of the Year for the Richmond Hill Police Department. Long works in both the administrative area of the department and the patrol division. He is, in fact, the commander of the patrol division.
Patrol officers make checks in residential neighborhoods and for businesses, especially at night. They do traffic stops and answer domestic calls. Overall, the patrol division makes about 800 calls a month. Although there might be slow times, mostly the officers are busy year-round. They are responsible for some minor criminal investigations as well, but the Criminal Investigations Division investigates major crimes so that patrol officers can be free to return to patrol duties.
There is some danger involved in police work, such as handling drunks and making domestic calls. In such cases, force might have to be used, but the most common calls that an officer answers are for service. It is seldom that pepper spray, hand cuffs or tasers have to be used.
Long knew the dangers when he entered police work. In his early days, he worked as a military police officer in the Army after spending some time as an Explorer Scout. Later he served as a Deputy Sheriff. He has served more than 26 years in law enforcement and has loved it.
The attitude of service to the community and love of his career has served him well as a police officer. The bulk of his career has been spent in Richmond Hill, and his reward has come in the form of many certificates and medals. Ultimately, this year he was selected as the 2007 Officer of the Year.
Long plays down his achievement and defers to the officers on the department.
"Police work isn’t done alone," he said. "We work together. Law Enforcement is one big family. When we need help, other officers are there for us."
Sign up for camp
Coastal Empire Christian Camp in Hiltonia will be the site of the camps to which youth will go in Coastal Community Christian Church. Registration for camps is going on now, although the camps aren’t until this summer. Registration ends May 5. Camps are for youths ages kindergarten through 12th grade. A $10 registration fee is required and can be left at the church. A parent’s informational meeting will be held soon.
CCCC is at 10770 Ford Avenue in Richmond Hill. Phone: 727-4747
Hendrix covers community news and can be reached at 756-4787.