by DAVE TURNER & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ayne Longo said he doesn't know exactly when the Coeur d'Alene Police Department will issue him his chief's uniform.
All that he knows is it will be sometime in September and it'll be dark blue, similar to the shade he's been wearing for more than three decades for the Idaho State Police (ISP).
Longo, who's spent 31 years in North Idaho with the ISP, was selected in early July as the latest in a long line of cops to pin on the chief's badge and stars.
"He's the full package," says ISP Capt. Clark Rollins, who is expected to assume Longo's duties as district commander. "He is a good cop and a great administrator."
Longo, 53, was reared in upstate New York. He came west to Lewiston for his first job as a cop with ISP and rose through the ranks. He has chased suspects as a patrol trooper and chased down methamphetamine makers as a drug detective. He has been in charge of both ISP's investigations and patrol divisions here, straining to cover Idaho's five northernmost counties with a handful of troopers.
As the District 1 commander, he oversees 55 sworn officers and support staff. When he takes over at the city, the number of people under his command will nearly double to almost 90.
Longo also teaches law enforcement classes at North Idaho College.
"He's one of the fairest administrators you will ever come across," Rollins says. "The ISP's loss is the city's gain."
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hen Chief Wendy Carpenter announced her retirement earlier this year, Longo says he wasn't looking for a new job. "I was very happy here (with ISP). I wanted to live, retire and die in Kootenai County, but then the opportunity came up," he says. So Longo decided to finish his career with the city. "It's a defined jurisdiction. I can just worry about Coeur d'Alene."
Longo is renowned among police for pulling long hours behind the scenes in support of his troopers. There are times, it is said, when Longo pulls up in his unmarked sedan behind one of his troopers working a traffic stop. Under Idaho law, ISP officers cannot use unmarked cars for traffic enforcement.
"But I can back them up once they got 'em stopped," Longo says.
Or there are times he'll pull security at a crime scene -- several times taking the all-nighter at the Wolf Lodge site of the Groene murders, one CDA PD source says.
"The job demands it," he says. "If the guys need help, I'm not going to sit here and say 'Gee, I've got captain's bars on, I'm not going to help them."
Longo also continues to do traffic enforcement on heavy driving days, such as holiday weekends. "I don't want to be so rusty that I'm a liability" to his officers, he says.
Even those who work defending those arrested for crimes respect Longo.
"He's a good, honest cop," says Mark Durant, a former police officer who now works as an investigator for the Kootenai County Public Defender's Office. "You can take him at his word."
Durant says he thinks Longo is the right fit for the department. "I think he will bring in some fresh ideas. I look forward to working with him," he says.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & n organizational assessment released in mid-July showed the Coeur d'Alene Police Department has an 84 percent approval rating from residents, 99 percent of whom say they feel safe while shopping and at home. Most also say they feel safe when they are in the downtown area and while driving.
"That's Wendy Carpenter's legacy," Stephen Kent, the president of Hood River, Ore.-based The Results Group, Ltd., told the city council when he presented the findings.
Carpenter, 50, took over from former chief Tom Cronin in 2003. She says it will be sad to leave the department on her self-imposed limit of 30 years.
"Wayne will be a great chief," she says. "The department will be in great hands and the city will have a great ambassador."
Carpenter leaves Longo with a variety of new programs she instituted, including a motorcycle patrol and a staff of volunteers who help keep the department running smoothly.
Most importantly, there are no morale problems.
"We're one of the better-paid departments in the state, and we have good equipment," she says.
But she doesn't expect Longo to simply mind the store after she's gone.
"Are there things Wayne's going to change? Absolutely," she says. "There are things that need to be changed and he's the one to do it."
Longo says he will work closely with the public. It's not unusual to see him in his uniform at the grocery store. He plans to continue to maintain a high level of visibility.
"It's important to me to show people we are out there," he says. "The public wants somebody there."
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & s he prepares for what will likely be his last job in law enforcement, Longo says he will be happy to work in a smaller jurisdiction.
"You're dealing with six council members and one mayor," he says. "It's nice not having to deal with a multitude of legislators."
He also says people in Coeur d'Alene know who he is... and vice versa. "I've lived in the community for a long time and feel comfortable."