BELLVILLE — The new face behind the glass at the Bellville Police Department has earned her stripes in several ways.
Heather Long, in her second week as police/records clerk, can tell people her credentials involve doing similar work in Wayne County, in Wooster. She has also managed a couple of stores and worked with her husband in their own tele-communications business.
While doing all this, for the record, she was also hit by a car and robbed at gunpoint.
Of all this, she says it’s “part of the job.”
Long will be answering questions and providing information to people who come to the Bellville Police Department offices. Part of her work involves taking care of records requests and records checks, answering queries from childrens’ services officials, and entering citations.
“You name it,” she says. The person doing this job has to be “familiar with a little bit of everything.”
Long went to college in what she describes as a “non-traditional” way. She delayed going to college, at The Ohio State University, until 2008. After graduating from high school, she had her son, Caleb, now 15. She went to college, intending to eventually get a master’s degree in psychology. Instead, she got a bachelor of arts degree with two minors, criminology and sociology.
She said her advisor told her to take things that interested her. She did, following her interest in knowing things about people, “what makes them tick.”
From her days in college — she was in school full-time and worked part-time — she says she learned it’s about “not giving up.”
She worked in Wooster as a parking enforcement clerk for the police department. When in Columbus, she was store manager at Hollywood Video.
She decided she was interested in applying for the job in Bellville after seeing a listing for it on Facebook.
She said she is now more interested in preserving “family time” because she and her husband, Cory, now have an 18 month-old daughter, Kyleigh.
She thinks kids can grow up faster than parents realize, and she believes “little things matter.”
She describes herself as a “mean mom” because she watches over her son Caleb’s access to things like the internet. She doesn’t allow him use of a cell phone. She said Caleb is fascinated by what she does, but because he has some disabilities she finds she has to spell out in detail what her job involves. She tells him she “reads reports, put them into the computer, reads through what can be released, that socials can’t be released.”
Caleb always asks “why?”
So Long goes back and breaks down her descriptions so understanding comes easier.
In her job she listens to the police scanner, because that is where information about the need for law enforcement help is broadcast. When she hears something that says help is needed around Madison (a school in Mansfield) she “perks up.” That is where Caleb goes to school.
Getting used to the ways of the world is rough for kids, Long said, because many times they are “expected to be little adults.”
But she thinks they need to experience the world themselves. Until kids have a “one-on-one experience” they can’t understand.
Long’s husband Cory is fleet manager for Southern Tier Communications, which works out of Columbus. She and her husband still have a work relationship with a group in Cleveland, Blue Jay. In the tele-communications field when it becomes known that a business knows what to do, they get contacted by people from everywhere. Some of their work relationships have been with people in Wisconsin and Texas.
From working with police departments Long says she knows it’s more than just being about officers going for “donuts and coffee.” Police “protect and serve” the community, she said.
Police chief Ron Willey said having Long helps the department do a lot more things “officially.”
A lot of things go into police work and people don’t realize that, Willey said. Having Long “releases the burden on officers.”
Some people have developed misconceptions about what to do when they contact the police department. Though there is a main number (419-886-3801) that is an emergency line. A call there gets diverted to dispatch. Though the recording informs people to punch a certain number if they want a deputy, people should understand the reference to deputy is a bit of a misnomer. The phone call to that number will be diverted to the appropriate law enforcement entity, Willey said.
People shouldn’t automaticaly decide they should hang up when they get that message. They should go ahead and record their request, and it will get to the appropriate person.