While a nursing student at Augusta State University, Mason decided to refocus by asking himself one question: If money wasn’t a factor, what job would I choose?
Reflecting on his childhood, where he spent his time lugging around an old leather suitcase with a plastic badge on his shirt and a cap gun tucked into his waistband, Mason knew his passion was in law enforcement.
He again had to adjust after graduating from Augusta Technical College’s Peace Officers Training Academy in 2011. The 22-year-old graduate of Lakeside High School in Evans admits he might not have been completely ready for the more rural, more laid-back county just to the north.
“I think I had been up here twice before I came over here to work,” he said with a laugh.
Law enforcement in Lincoln County takes a special kind of person, said Capt. Jim Wallen, Mason’s supervisor. Residents are quick to know one another and enjoy life at a slower pace than what Mason was used to. But that hasn’t hindered him one bit, Wallen said.
“He was from Columbia County and he was used to what it’s like over there,” said Wallen, who has been in law enforcement since 1972. “Here, we have country folk. But he’s a very perceptive person and he has more than adjusted to the situation. I wish I had 20 of him.”
One of the biggest challenges of working in Lincoln County, particularly in the city of Lincolnton, is that you’re hardly a stranger wherever you go, Mason said.
“It’s kind of a balancing act,” he said. “You don’t have to get a complete bio on everyone that you talk to. But that makes it harder because they look at you as a friend instead of a law enforcement officer.”
Mason handles that challenge admirably, Wallen said, even to the point of using his skills outside of law enforcement. As a trained first responder, it’s not uncommon to see Mason beat emergency medical technicians to the scene to render aid.
It’s all part of what Wallen says is Mason’s desire to help others, no matter the emergency.
“You’ve got to realize that when you show up, you’re seeing someone on their worst day,” Mason said. “People don’t just wake up in a good mood and dial 911.”
Mason said he’s content with his job, which he would return to even if he won the lottery.
“Well, I might take a week off,” he said. “But I would come back to work here, and I would do it for free.”