TROY — Being a police officer was all Troy Police Department’s Patrol Capt. Joe Long ever wanted to do.
“It’s all I ever wanted to do as far back as I could remember,” Long said.
Long will retire from the police force after more than 33 years of service on Oct. 18. He started his career with the Troy Police Department in May 1986.
The thin blue line runs deeper in his family history than Long thought after discovering a long lost relative’s connection to the force.
Thumbing through news articles kept by his late grandmother, Long’s family discovered she had a cousin named Jesse Dills who was police officer from Paintsville, Ky. in the 1920s. Stopping to get a cup of coffee, Dills was shot and killed outside of a pool hall in 1929. Dills, who was 39 at the time of his death, is memorialized at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Long said he has visited the memorial before, but didn’t discover the family connection beforehand.
Long’s brother is a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputy and a cousin serves on the Beavercreek Police Department. Long shared how his grandfather had wanted to join law enforcement as a state trooper, but never pursued it.
Born and raised in Huber Heights, Long enrolled in the Greene County police academy and then started his career with the Waynesville Police Department before testing for several police officer positions. Long said the city of Troy offered him a job first and he stayed with the city for more than three decades.
“Every day is different. It might be the same people, but with different problems that day,” Long said.
Long served as a patrolman for 12 years before being promoted to sergeant in 1999. He then was promoted to patrol captain in 2004.
Rising through the ranks, Long said he enjoyed training fellow officers in areas such as firearms techniques throughout his years in his leadership roles.
Long noted his first few weeks of service were part of the city of Troy’s blemished history when the police department was in a state of ill repute due to the shooting death of Kerry Helton by two fellow officers in the summer of 1986. As the city made national headlines as candlelight vigils turned into protests, Long recalled the long shifts and no days off as the city slowly healed from the weeks of emotional turmoil.
Reflecting upon the changes across the years, Long shared the major changes law enforcement has underwent during his years of service with the advances in technology.
“It was a learning curve,” he said.
Adding computerized reports and cruiser cameras, the advances in technology allowed officers more time on the road instead of officers writing reports by hand or searching for subject information by index card.
It was also through the line of duty that Long met his wife Diane who works for the Miami County Juvenile Court services. They married in 1992 and have an adult son, Brandon.
With no firm retirement plans other than to root for his beloved Cincinnati Bengals and care for his two dogs Nyx and Storm, Long simply summed up his career and service in his usual humble fashion.
“It’s just all I ever wanted to do,” he said.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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