Roanoke County’s longest-serving employee retires

Asst. Police Chief Chuck Mason will turn in his badge after nearly 50 years

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Chuck Mason is the proud owner of a shadow box filled with patches, IDs and badges collected over the course of a record-breaking career.

This month, the assistant chief turned in his badge after 48.5 years with the Roanoke County Police Department; the county’s longest-serving employee.

“Old age caught up with me,” said Mason.

His career in public safety began when he was just 16 years old. He joined the Cave Spring Rescue Squad and then became a firefighter. In June of 1974 at 18 years old, he joined the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was two weeks after my 18th birthday, the last week of high school,” said Mason. “And I’d be in the radio room in the afternoon, taking final exams in the morning. They did give me [the] night off for graduation, which I thought was awful nice of them. Have just worked my way through and up in the department ever since.”

Mason made the switch from a brown to a blue uniform in July of 1990 when the county created a separate police department, building it from the ground up.

“I get lots of wisecracks about, you know, ‘Where did we hitch our horses back then?’” said Mason. “My first issued car was a 1975 Dodge Monaco.”

He’s worked on major cases, from drug busts to murders. Most notably in 2010, Jeff Easley killed his girlfriend and kidnapped her 12-year-old daughter, Brittany Smith. The two were finally tracked down days later in California and Smith returned home safe and sound.

“We sweat blood over that one,” said Mason. “We were afraid that girl was going to be dead.”

He’s also seen drastic changes within the field, both in technology and public perception.

“I think law enforcement has been very good about responding to these changes and trying to improve how law enforcement works with their communities,” said Mason.

New Assistant Chief Mark Tuck said he’s got big shoes to fill.

“He has served the role of mentor, he has served definitely as a sounding board, but most importantly has served as a friend,” said Tuck.

Although he’s stepping down, Mason’s legacy will live on.

“My youngest son followed me into the police department and he’s now, actually, he’s one of our detectives,” said Mason.

After nearly half a century, Mason’s seen it all. Now, he teaches criminal justice at Radford University so the next generation of officers can learn from his long career.

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