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Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Mason, Columbia County Reserve

Posted: June 21, 2016 - 11:02pm
Photo by Abbigail Lennon  Photo by Abbigail Lennon
Photo by Abbigail Lennon
Photo by Abbigail Lennon

Eleven years ago, Steve Mason signed on to become a reserve deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Like all law enforcement officers, Mason completed the extensive application process, went through the police academy and now regularly maintains his law enforcement certification with 20 hours of specialized training every month, in keeping with state law mandatory for any law enforcement officer.

But what is special about Mason is the fact that he is a volunteer and the 240 or more hours a year he serves in a reserve capacity is done out of the goodness of his heart.

Mason fills in for deputies with sick family members at the drop of a hat and on one occasion Mason even worked Christmas Day so a younger deputy could spend Christmas at home with his new family.

It’s a service that he says goes along with the camaraderie and kinship working with the deputies brings him.

“I know how important it is so if they want to do the Christmas thing I can go out and do this,” Mason said. “Because at the end of the day I am asleep at night so somebody’s gotta look out for me too and that’s what these guys do. I look at it like I am part of them, but I look at them like they’re my sheriff’s office too and I know no matter what, I can count on
them.”

It’s this kind of character Mason’s superiors say he brings to the table and is an asset to fulfilling the duties of the sheriff’s office.

“He’s taken a vested interest in his community,” said Capt. Andy Shedd, adding that Mason’s 11 years of experience as a reserve deputy with the department has groomed him to respond as professionally as a full time deputy to any situation.

“We can take deputy Steve Mason and let him handle something as simple as a damaged mailbox all the way up to a murder, rape or robbery where we have a serious natured crime scene and we know he’s been trained and he’s got the experience,” Shedd said. “He can handle everything from that simple little crime or that simple call, all the way up to a major crime scene and he falls right in line with us and he does a great job.”

Mason, who lives in Harlem with his wife, Sherri, moved to Columbia County when he was 4 years old and has lived here for most of his life except for four years while he was in the Air Force.

When called in, Mason changes out of his military greens from his full-time job as a technician with the South Carolina Air National Guard, for police blues and badge.

Initially, Mason says he signed on to be a reserve deputy merely as a backup plan should the base he works at be closed during the last round of Base Realignment Closures and since law enforcement had always been a passion of his, it was a perfect opportunity.

“There was a possibility we may be closed down or we may be moved to another air force base so I decided, ‘Well, you know what, I always wanted to be a deputy,’” Mason explained.

But after it was clear the base would not close, Mason said he decided to stick with his decision. “I had already put all this time, effort and money into it and plus it’s fun,” Steve said, adding that through the hundreds of calls that he goes on, certain calls continue to make the volunteer work worthwhile.

Mason recalled a Christmas Day call regarding a welfare check on a woman who had not been heard from by her family or seen by her neighbors.

Mason was called to her home and when they were able to get into her home, they found her dehydrated and sick inside and rushed her to the hospital.

“So that was kind of cool I thought, on Christmas, going in there to save an elderly lady,” Mason recalled.

But the job does come with some challenges, including ever changing policies and procedures that are vital to the job. For full-time deputies the changes are part of their job, but for Mason, he has to keep up with many changes at once instead of a gradual flow of information.

“He might come out once a month and then we have to flood him with all of that information so it’s almost like drinking from a fire hose, it’s being thrown at you all at once, yet we still expect him to maintain the standard and he does,” Shedd said.

But being a part of something bigger than himself coupled with the admirable attitudes of the departments’ employees is what Mason says keeps him coming back each year.

“If it were not for all the deputies and how they treat me, I would probably wouldn’t do it,” Mason said. “The deputies up here they’re awesome, they’ll bend over backwards and do anything for you. So when they call, like if somebody is sick in the family or they get injured, I fill in.”

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