By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
After nearly three decades of public service, veteran police officer Frank Longoria has retired. His last day on the job with Liberty Police Department was Jan. 31.
For 12 years of his 27-year career in law enforcement, Longoria patrolled the streets of Liberty, never longing for a promotion as a detective or administrator.
“I loved being on the streets, being the one who made the split-second decisions, finding bad guys, helping people who had nowhere else to turn,” Longoria said. “I’m not belittling detectives, but I knew I didn’t have the patience for that. I wanted to find out the end of the story right then, not wait until it got sorted out by CID (Criminal Intelligence Division).”
Leaving behind a career he has so loved hasn’t been easy for Longoria, but health problems prompted an early exit.
“If you asked me a year ago, I would have said I planned to work for six more years in law enforcement. I wanted to work until I was 65. I’m 59 now,” Longoria said. “The year 2018 was the year that tried to kill me. It started out as gall bladder surgery, then my blood pressure started to go nuts.”
In the early part of May, Longoria was at home recuperating from the surgery when his wife and a friend noticed that he appeared to have suffered a stroke. After numerous scans and tests, doctors concluded that the droopiness on one side of his face – a characteristic of a stroke – was being caused by a brain lesion.
“I was one of their Top 10 interesting cases while I was in the hospital. I heard the doctors talking about it. They would bring around interns and resident doctors, and were discussing the fact that they thought I had muscular sclerosis,” Longoria said. “After testing, they found I didn’t meet the parameters of MS. They have officially called it a ‘clinically-isolated syndrome’, meaning they don’t know what the hell it is.”
After a few months of physical therapy, Longoria was on the path to wellness, but he had exhausted his sick time with the City of Liberty.
“The city was awesome. When I was running out of sick time, other employees donated their sick time to me, which allowed me to get paid for a few more months while I recuperated,” he said. “It allowed me to get better and get back to work. I realized, however, that I would not get well enough to do patrol full-time, not at the level that I needed to be.”
Longoria felt the best course of action was retirement.
“I couldn’t get back to work and eventually they would have to cut me loose. Instead of forcing them to do that, and it would hurt them to do that to me as their friend, I decided to retire,” he said.
Longoria began his law enforcement career as a reserve officer for the City of Ames. At that time, Ames had one of the biggest police departments in the area.
“It was a foot in the door for me. When I was in Ames, I used to stop this guy all the time because he was speeding. We got to be friends. Every time I stopped him we would talk. He happened to be a police officer in Dayton,” Longoria said. “He said he would put in a good word for me with the police chief the next time they had an opening.”
Eventually word came that an opening was available, so Longoria applied and was hired by then-Police Chief Buddy Bean.
“I loved that man – Buddy Bean. A lot of the way I am is because of him. He demanded respect for the job,” Longoria said.
When Bean retired, Longoria moved on to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office where he worked for former sheriff and current Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur.
“I was there almost six years. Greg was a good sheriff. He was out there working with us,” he said. “I had heard that Liberty Police Department was hiring. I had always wanted to work for LPD because it was one of the best agencies in the area. At that time, Liberty PD was paying $5,000-6,000 more than the sheriff’s office, so I made the move.”
At his retirement party on Feb. 14 at the Liberty Center next to Liberty City Hall, Longoria listened as his law enforcement colleagues shared their favorite memories of working with him and thanked him for the influence he made on their lives.
Liberty Police Department’s Chief Gary Martin, Lt. Chip Fairchild and Det. Elaine Taylor presented Longoria with a shadowbox holding his photo, badge, department emblems, stripes, hash marks and an American flag, and his duty weapon engraved with a saying for which Longoria is known. It reads, “Be Curious.”
Longoria may be gone from Liberty Police Department and full-time patrol work, but he’s not leaving law enforcement just yet. His commission has been picked up by the Pct. 1 Constable’s Office. He’ll still be patrolling city streets in Liberty and keeping residents safe.
“I am honored that I had the privilege of having served the citizens of Liberty and Liberty County,” he said, “and I hope that somewhere down the line, other officers will hear my name and say, ‘Longoria. Yeah, he was a good cop.'”