Archive for Monday, March 31, 2003

Eudora Police chief retires

Bill Long has seen many changes since taking charge in 1974

March 31, 2003


— When Bill Long became a part-time Eudora Police officer in 1968, the department had just one full-time officer -- the police chief.

Today, Eudora has a police department that, including the chief, consists of eight full-time officers and two part-time officers. Its operating budget is $550,000.

But a Eudora officer's job hasn't changed much, said Long, who will retire at the end of his shift Tuesday.

"We still do the same things and have the same crimes we always had, we just have more of it," Long, 59, said.

The main crime concerns in Eudora have always been burglaries, thefts and domestic disturbances.

The biggest change in Eudora has been its growth, Long said.

"Eudora is growing like crazy," he said. "If you didn't get out and drive around, you'd get lost."

Long became Eudora's police chief in 1974. He said he doubted that many police chiefs would serve that long in today's world.

"It's different," Long said. "The stress, the pressures are greater now than they used to be."

To handle that stress, Long worked out lifting weights. Divine assistance also may have helped. When he drives around town in his police car, a small crucifix on a chain dangles from the steering column.

"I hung it up there about 1975," Long said. "It's just changed cars with me and it's still there."

In the glove compartment Long still keeps the Bible he received early in his career upon graduation from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, although he said he'd never needed to take it out and read it while on duty.

Although far from being a hotbed of crime, there have been incidents in Eudora that weren't pleasant, Long said. He recalled an incident involving a man who shot and killed his wife and wounded her boyfriend. The man then drove to the outskirts of town and killed himself.

He also remembered a fight that resulted in a young boy getting killed.

"The ones you really hate to see are when children get hurt," Long said.

One of the keys to being a longtime police chief in a small town is showing respect to people, even those who are arrested, Long said.

"Just try to treat everybody right," he said. "Be fair to everybody."

Long has been a popular police chief, said Caren Rowland, president of the Eudora Chamber of Commerce. In February, the chamber presented Long with the Citizen of the Year award.

"Bill's always been a favorite with the people around here," Rowland said. "We just felt he was very deserving of the title."

Eudora Mayor Ron Conner also spoke highly of Long.

"He's always had a very ethical approach to the job," Conner said. "He's been a big supporter of the community."

Long said he had no special plans for retirement. He does intend to continue living in Eudora, he said.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, when Long takes off his badge for the last time, Greg Dahlem becomes the new Eudora police chief.

Dahlem has been with the department for 15 years. He was picked from 74 applicants for the job, Conner said. After a selection process that reduced the applicant list first to 20 and then nine, Conner appointed Dahlem chief and during a meeting a week ago the City Council gave its approval.

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