Capt. Jack Long, a Columbus Police veteran who had been battling cancer, died early Monday morning. He was 63 years old.
Born in Newport, Ark., on Sept. 1, 1949, Long is survived by his wife, Norma Long, and their two children, Penny Long and Sonja Lehmann.
Long worked with the Columbus Police Department for more than 25 years. Known as “Jackie” to those close to him, Long made a notable impact on many Columbus officers while working in several areas, including the Training Division. He was regarded as a mentor by many in the department.
“He pushed people to do the best they could as good police officers,” said Capt. J.D. Hawk, a long-time friend and colleague. “He was especially concerned about officer safety and teaching the young officers how to be safe.”
At 6-foot-6, Long was regarded as a gentle giant by many of his friends, including Hawk.
“Over the years I found out that this giant man turned out to be a big, loving teddy bear who would do anything for anyone,” Hawk said. “We’ve been here forever and his friendship over the years proved invaluable. He’s going to be missed greatly by the department. He cared about every police officer there.”
Police Chief Ricky Boren worked with Long as a detective and with the narcotics team.
“He was an individual that you could assign him an investigation or an incident,” Boren said, “and you could forget about it because it would get done.
“Even though he is gone, he will not be forgotten.”
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Long was a pioneer officer who aided efforts to create a safe entertainment environment in the Uptown area.
“He was a big-hearted bear of a man, and we will miss him greatly,” Tomlinson said. “We are indebted to him for his service to this city.”
Long was diagnosed with liver cancer in April. Since then, law enforcement, public safety departments and local businesses have rallied around Long.
On June 21, The Fraternal Order of Police, Country’s Barbecue and other downtown businesses held a barbecue fundraiser for Long. About 3,000 barbecue tickets were sold at $10 a plate. A long line of friends and well-wishers stood in the hot sun to show their support for Long’s family and to express thanks for personal guidance he had provided over the years. Country’s employees also donated their time for the event.
“It’s great to have family this big, and that’s what I consider everyone here to be — family,” Long said during the event. “They’ve taken care of me and done things for me ever since this came out. That’s what family does.”
Several other fundraisers were held for the family, including a Dunk-a-Cop tank hosted by Living Room, Bootleggers and Twisted and a raffle hosted by The Fraternal Order of Police. Two benefits and a bar crawl were also held. Many officers donated their off-duty pay to the family to offset lost income and medical expenses.
In addition to being on the police force, Long worked part-time coordinating downtown security on the busy weekend nights. His downtown partner of four years, Motorsquad Officer Gene House, said during the fundraiser that Long was one of the best friends he ever had.
“He had a heart bigger than his size,” House said Monday. “He’s been a good friend to me, and he will be sorely missed.” News of Long’s death spread quickly on social media.
“Condolences to his family and friends,” wrote former mayor and Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters. “He was a caring and dedicated police officer and a wonderful man. I know he and his family really appreciated the outpouring of love and support during his fight with cancer. You never die as long as someone remembers you. So, Jackie will live on in our hearts and minds.”
Visitation will be Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. at McMullen Funeral Home. The service will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at Cascade Hills Church in Columbus. Burial will a private service at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Russell County.