BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — After 28 years of service with the Burlington Police Department, Chief Brian Long has announced his retirement, which is set to take effect July 1.

Long reflected on his journey with the department that began in 1995 when he joined as a patrol officer at 22. Long initially discovered his interest in policing during his teenage years, having participated in the department’s “Youth Explorer Program.”

“We were able to ride in the cars and go on calls, and to a certain amount, be able to help the officers out on a daily basis…just a real-world experience for a 14 or 15-year-old to see what happens in the community and how police respond,” Long said.

One of the things Long is most proud of in his career is the department’s increased focus on mental health response. The department now sends a mental health co-responder with each officer to help community members who might be suffering from a mental health crisis.

Long believes that how officers respond and build trust with the community is the backbone of policing.

“Policing is a unique industry, and the community conveys trust to us,” Long said. “It should come with a high level of oversight and transparency. It’s our responsibility as officers to do the work the right way.”

While Long’s “official” retirement day is July 1, he expects his last day on the job to be in mid-June as he plans to spend some time with his wife and three daughters at the beach, using up some of his stored-up vacation time.

He doesn’t know who his successor will be yet, but he says that he knows the department will be in good hands.