MASON — Mason Police Chief Colton McKinney has been named the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 Officer of the Year for 2019-2020.
He was presented the award recently by Post Commander Ray Varian.
McKinney took over the helm of the Mason Police Department in June 2018. Prior to that, he was a sergeant and officer with the department, as well as an officer with the Point Pleasant Police Department.
Since becoming chief, McKinney has modernized the department with updated systems for reports and citations. He has added security within the department, as well as hiring more officers. McKinney said three additional patrolmen have been hired since he became chief, two of whom have graduated from the police academy, with a third who is set to graduate in November.
The chief has written and received many grants, including one that equipped officers with new bulletproof vests. Under McKinney’s leadership, the police department had its largest drug bust in Mason in the last decade. The bust resulted in the arrest of five individuals and a large amount of methamphetamines taken off the streets.
McKinney is active with the area youth, and held a seminar at Wahama High School to help educate young and future drivers. Outside of his job, he is head coach for both the Wahama junior high football and wrestling teams.
His concern for children comes from his own difficult past, McKinney said. Adopted by his aunt and uncle at the age of 10, he had a run-in with police with his biological father a year earlier. After being a passenger when his dad was arrested, McKinney said he would never forget how kind and respectful the officer was. The policeman even went so far as to buy him food from McDonalds and allow him to eat with his dad a last time before his dad went to jail. It was then that McKinney decided to become a police officer.
The incident also spurred him to make a vow that whether in or out of uniform, he would always be willing to help someone. McKinney said the badge doesn’t make the officer, but the way the officer upholds himself is what makes the badge.
McKinney will now move on to district competition, according to Varian. He will also be honored at the post’s Loyalty Day Dinner in May.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.