Brayton Long has worked as a logger, fisherman
and police officer. He’s retiring to start his own tour

When officer Brayton Long was assaulted by a Fairbanks man on the street earlier this month, he had a moment of insight.

After receiving a tip about a suspicious man ogling young women through binoculars at the Port Chilkoot Dock, Long investigated. He questioned the suspect, who then tried to walk away. When Long blocked his path, the man lunged at the officer, knocking him to the ground and sitting on top of him until Long used the man’s pressure points to gain control.

“Is this really what I want to do when I’m 60?” Long, 56, thought in the wake of the attack. “No, I don’t,” he reasoned with himself. “I want to go live life.”

Last week, Long submitted his resignation letter to the Haines Borough Police Department, the day after the borough assembly approved his permit to operate a tour in the Haines Borough.

He has been an officer in Haines for three and a half years, and has been in and out of the community since he first arrived from his hometown in Chico, California in 1979, at 16 years old.

“It’s been a long-term dream,” Long said of his new venture. He said tourism has captivated him since the early 80’s when, as a teenager, he helped Al Gilliam with his river raft company in Haines.

“We would fly up the Tsirku and walk to the mouth of the glacier,” Long remembers,

“Then the next day we would raft out on the Tsirku.” He was immediately sold on the business after seeing the excitement on people’s faces, witnessing a glacier for the first time. “To me its exciting to bring Alaska to people,” Long said.

In 1989, Long and his brother-in-law pursued a stint in tourism for the summer when they bought an old freight wagon and two Belgian horses: tan with big creamy flowing manes.

During the Southeast Alaska Fair, they charged kids a couple of bucks per ride, and Long even rode one of the horses in the Fourth of July parade.

After four decades of construction work, deck handing, truck driving, helicopter logging, and policing in Sonoma, California, Skagway and Haines, Long is returning to the industry that’s motivated him since he was a teenager.

“I love Alaska, I’ve always been excited about Alaska and I’m still as excited about Alaska as I was in 1979 when I was 16,” he said.

Alaska Local Tours, Long’s owned and operated company, will have a hyper-local focus on town history from the perspective of a year-round local guide: ex-police officer Long.

The tour will last two hours and take up to seven passengers in Long’s brand-new Honda Odyssey van to Fort Seward, through the townsite, out Mud Bay to Chilkat State Park and Letnikof Cove and then to Tanani Point.

Throughout the drive, Long will paper his guests with historical facts of the area, intermixed with anecdotes from a resident that’s lived in and out of Haines for decades.”

“I want to be personable,” Long said. “I want to put a local spin on what we’re about, not like the reality TV shows.”

Long’s boss and colleagues describe him as professional, personable and “everything a cop should be.”

“Brayton’s going and chasing the dream and I’m really proud of him,” Police Chief Heath Scott said. He credited Long with documenting over 1,000 pieces of police evidence that, “prior to that, was all in brown paper bags thrown in the closet.”

“I’m not happy he’s leaving, but I’m happy for him,” sergeant Josh Dryden said of his colleague. “I think he has a good personality for this job and for the tour business. “He knows a lot about the area and he’s just an overall good dude.”

Long will likely lead the auxiliary officer program, and remained involved with the police department in a lesser capacity.

Beginning in July, the auxiliary program will recruit three trained volunteer officers to serve alongside staff officers for high-volume town events, such as Brew Fest.

The Haines Borough Police Department is advertising to fill Long’s position, and will conduct its first review on May 15, Scott said. Scott said the department is planning to be short-staffed for at least two months.

The resignation comes amidst budget negotiations, where Scott is asking the borough assembly for additional funding for the police department to potentially allow for a sixth officer.

Alaska Local Tours’ website is under construction, but will be up and accepting bookings in the coming weeks, Long said. His last day as an officer will be May 7.

“We’ll see him around, he can’t get too far from us,” Dryden said.