When Jamie Long graduated from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy Nov. 14, he did more than assume a job with Maryville Police Department. He continued a family tradition.
It began with his grandfather, retired Alcoa Police officer Lowell Ridings. It continued with his dad, Assistant Blount County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jimmy Long.
While his dad was proud of his decision to go into law enforcement, he didn’t jump at the chance to see his son in uniform. “He graduated from UT recently with his history degree and was thinking about being a school teacher, and I was hoping an attorney,” Chief Long said.
At about the end of his junior year in college, Jamie Long visited his dad. “He said he needed to talk to me about something and said he had talked to his mother and said he wanted to go into law enforcement,” Chief Long said. “I did my best to talk him out of it because of the long hours and low pay and the weight of family against your professional life. Finally, he and his mom shut me down and laid down the law. They said, ‘He’s your kid, support him, be proud he’s doing what you did.”
Chief Long said his son has done well at MPD, and Chief Tony Crisp hired him and gave him an opportunity. “I’m just 100 percent supportive. Law enforcement isn’t bad. I love the job but there’s an easier way to make a living and one that isn’t as tough on your loved ones and your schedule,” he said. “His granddad was real proud of him, too.”
Ridings was upbeat when asked about his grandson’s new occupation.
“He’s kind of a laid-back kid with a joker streak in him in a good way,” Ridings said. “He works hard and studies hard. He pays attention and, of course, he’s my grandson. He’s a good Christian kid, goes to church on a regular basis, and he takes all that serious. You’d never know it but his actions speak louder than words. He’s a good young’un and I’m extremely, extremely proud of him.”
Sheriff James Berrong said that the 12 individuals who went through the third class of the academy spent more than 448 participating in intensive training both in the classroom and with hands-on training.
“The 12 men that are graduating today have worked tirelessly for the past 11 weeks to be here on the stage today,” he said. “They overcame many trials and tribulations and learned to work together as a team.”
The members of the third class of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy were Drew Berman, Clinton Brookshire, Shannon Funderburk, Dustin Hensley, James Long, Nathaniel Nelson, James Bowman, Joshua Currier, Nick Halsey, Clyde Ingle Jr., Reginald McCullough and Matt Watson.