Haines police officer Brayton Long is expected to make a full recovery. (Jillian Rogers)

Haines police officer Brayton Long is expected to make a full recovery. (Jillian Rogers)

Haines police officer Brayton Long is expected to make a full recovery after accidentally shooting himself in the wrist earlier this month. Long was participating in an annual training exercise when the incident happened.

Long says he’s feeling good these days, is back to work, and in minimal pain. He’s got surgery and physical therapy ahead, but he still has some healing to do before that. On Jan. 5, Long accidently shot himself with his police-issued .45-calibre Glock. He began as an officer for the borough in November.

“Well, we doing an annual qualification course for firearms, according to the APS standards, and trooper Neason was there, Sgt. Hightower was running the range with the state troopers and then Sgt. Dryden was there. So, during the course of fire, which is timed – we have to engage a target and shoot so many rounds into the target in a specified location – so, during the course of fire, I had an accident and injured myself,” Long says.

The bullet went all the way through his wrist. Long says the actual details of how it happened are confidential.

“It’s under investigation by Alaska State Troopers.”

He says he didn’t realize the bullet had gone through his body at first. He grabbed his wounded left wrist with his right hand and then trooper Dru Neason rendered medical assistance. Long was medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, after a trip to the clinic in Haines.

He says the accident has not compromised his overall proficiency as a peace officer and that it doesn’t indicate  a lack of skill.

“I’m fully confident in my abilities to do my duties and I’ve talked to Sgt. Dryden and he’s fully confident in my ability to pursue my duties.”

Right now, he’s sidelined to light duty. He says that includes grant research, evaluating stored evidence, among other paperwork-type tasks.

Community members and fellow law enforcement officers have reached out to Long to offer support and encouragement.

“I think the department is on good path and I think they’re doing everything they can to restructure the department in a positive way to get community support,” says Long.

Trooper Neason says the investigation is still open, so he can’t reveal any details.

“Anytime that there’s a report of somebody’s being shot, we investigate. Even if it’s self-inflicted,” Neason says.

As far as the state is concerned, no disciplinary action is taken in a case like this. That’s up to the Haines Police Department, Neason says.

Interim manager Brad Ryan says the accident happened on his second day on the job. Acting chief Sgt. Josh Dryden jumped into action to get help while Long was out of commission. The borough recently hired a new officer, Chris Brown, who will report for duty in Haines in mid-February.

Ryan says he hasn’t heard much in the way of concerns from residents about Long’s capability.

“I think people realize that accidents happen and I think Brayton has a good reputation in town, so, unlike a lot of issues in Haines, I think this one has gone with a lot of understanding,” Ryan says.

He adds that despite recent hiccups, he’s pleased with the path the police department is on and is expecting a have a full force in the near future. Ryan says associates from the firm hired to find Haines’ next permanent police chief are expected to be here in February to get the process started.