JONESVILLE — Leading by example has been standard operating procedure for Dane Mastin, interim administrative chief for the Jonesville Police Department.
Having served with the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office from the ground up for most of his adult life, Mastin is almost over-qualified for the smaller community of Jonesville.
“I had a community of nearly 70,000 people to look out for,” said Mastin, describing his time as Wilkes County sheriff where he managed more than 100 officers out of several locations.
“I have to learn how things are done here before I can see what improvements we can make,” he said.
Although Mastin was not eager to accept the job initially, he is now looking forward to working with the Jonesville staff.
“[Jonesville Town Manager Michael Pardue] asked me to be on a committee to interview people for the position [of police chief after Roger Reece resigned March 27],” said Mastin. “No one seemed to quite fit with the needs of the moment.”
During a spring of significant administrative changes, including Pardue taking on his position in May and the change in finance officer and town clerk shortly after, town administrators thought it would be best to hire an interim chief.
“There was just a lot of change going on at that time and they decided that it would be better to have someone in an interim position so as to not make too many changes at once,” said Mastin, explaining new department heads often have new ideas to try.
“It’s good to see things with new ideas,” said Mastin. He understands human nature doesn’t always allow for easy change, especially too much at one time.
Mastin does expect some things to change eventually after first learning what is working for Jonesville and what isn’t.
“I was down at the substation earlier meeting the folks and taking a look at what they have to work with,” he said. “We have a lot of fine officers in Jonesville.”
One of those officers is Capt. Scotty Vestal, who stepped in to serve as interim police chief during the transition. “Captain Vestal did a good job,” said Mastin. “I’m looking forward to working with him and the rest of the staff.”
Mastin is also looking forward to continuing to work with other local agencies stating that interagency cooperation is the only way to make any community safe.
“If I run the criminals out of my area, they are just going to move somewhere else and make that place unsafe,” said Mastin. “We don’t want to make our problem someone else’s.”
This is part of why Mastin has a long history of working with other law enforcement agencies including other counties, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he received additional training.
Mastin went to extreme efforts to make sure he was fit for duty when entering the FBI training program. “[The physical aptitude test] was the first thing we did when we got there,” he said, joking about his weight concerns over that particular holiday season.
He felt the additional training allowed him to better serve the public as a law enforcement officer describing how details learned in those classes carried over to other cases.
The FBI training also helped Mastin understand the value of interagency cooperation. “They have [labs and equipment] that are not available to a smaller jurisdiction,” said Mastin, who also thinks it’s important to have cooperation between officers and the community they serve. “People need to understand that we are here to protect them, and that means cooperation and respect.
“I treat everyone the same,” Mastin said, adding he also expects the same of his officers. “I don’t care what your name is, what your job is, or whose kid you are. If you have done something wrong, you’ll be treated like everyone else.”
Mastin hopes wrong-doing will not be the way he meets most citizens, however, and looks forward to being a part of the Jonesville community. “I see a lot of good things going on here,” said Mastin.
He anticipates an indefinite term providing insight and influence while continuing to set an example for officers in and around the Yadkin Valley.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.