Jeff Long has been serving the Utah Valley for over thirty years, beginning as a campus police officer at BYU before joining the Orem Police Department in 1995 to pursue a dream he’s had since his teens. Long is also a veteran, having served in two deployments in Afghanistan and twenty-three years in the military reserves. Since his retirement in 2015, he has once again been serving as a campus police officer for BYU and now UVU.
During the interview, he was asked what advice he would give to students who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement and the stigma around it. “Don’t be discouraged by what you hear and see,” he states. “It’s kind of been a rough career field in recent years,” he said about the prevalent issues of racism and defunding police movements. “Are there and have there been bad officers? Sure. There’s bad whoever in any career field.” To help these issues they need people who are willing and can do better than the officers students hear in the news. However, Long makes it clear that, as a supervisor, it’s his responsibility to prevent those kinds of issues “in a heartbeat.” Long doesn’t want to hide when someone screws up and wishes for him and his officers to be held accountable.
“It’s still a pretty fun job. It’s exciting. Is it dangerous? Sure, it is. But my comeback is that it’s dangerous to get in your car and pull out into State Street,” He continues. “You are interacting with people at their best, and at their worst,” and that you must learn to ask yourself “how can I as a human being help this situation?”
Later in the interview, we asked about campus safety.
“Bad stuff finds itself onto campus,” Long said, from traffic violations to theft, one of the biggest crimes on campus. When asked how students can take measures for personal safety, Long shared that the biggest deterrent to crime is situational awareness. “People are gonna hate me for this: get your face off your phone; be aware of your surroundings. Situational awareness is the number one combatant against crime.” Long notes that everyone checks their phone sometimes, himself included, but by being unaware we make ourselves targets for crime.
Situational awareness also plays a part in how students can contribute to making campus a safer environment. “We have forty-thousand students, that’s eighty-thousand eyes.” The UVU Police Department relies on people, so he encourages students to make the call, even if it’s only a hunch. Some of Long’s most important arrests have come from hunches.
In the interview, Long shared plans to expand the school’s safety drills. As of now, students undergo a fire drill once a year but, in the future, the UVU Police Department wants to have more safety drills for different situations. This process, however, is something that they want to be careful with since drills like these can be stressful and triggering for students. Faculty also undergo their own safety drills in joint with the UVU Police Department. Twice a year, they receive training for potential threats that may occur on campus.
Long concluded by sharing how important but simple his goal is. “Sounds cliché, but we’re just here to keep people safe. And that we all have better futures.” According to Long. “Our [campus] officers could go somewhere else and make more money. City agencies are paying really good money. But the bottom line is our officers love working here because of the environment, they love the students. So, it’s true, we are here to keep the students safe.”
If students need police assistance on campus, they can call campus police at (801) 863-5555. Their email is [email protected], which can be used to report any incident or campus crime. Students can also visit their office in the Gunther Technology building, Room 311.