PETERSBURG, Va. -- Takaylia Mason is living her dream. Born in Petersburg, Virginia, and raised on West Washington Street, Mason is now giving back to her community as a Petersburg Police Officer.
"I’m still amazed at the fact I’m doing what I like to do. Protect and serve the place I call home," the 22-year-old rookie officer said.
Mason, who graduated from the six-month police academy and completed her work with a field training officer, said she hoped to be an officer who is friendly to everyone.
"Someone who understands everybody’s situation," she said. "To help come to some type of solution without it being a negative effect on the community."
The Chowan University graduate earned her criminal justice degree but quickly learned the streets are much different than the classroom.
“In the academy, before actually experiencing the streets, I had the mindset that my job was risky and every day would be a challenge," she said. "Once I started to experience the streets on my own, I realized it is what I want it to be. My job is whatever I make it to be. If I come out and treat everyone with respect, I’ll get respect in return. I’ll have a successful shift and make it back home."
She believes a positive encounter can be part of the change she wants to make in her community.
"If I see a kid out playing ball or something, I get out, try to speak to them," she said.
Of course, the job has its tougher times.
“Actually getting DOA calls doesn’t bother me, but encountering the family members or the loved ones of the [deceased] individual is usually the tough part because I have empathy towards those individuals. That’s the tough part about that type of call."
One month on the job, Mason continues to work to model the change she hopes to ignite.
"If I build a rapport with them, they’ll have a positive impression on policing. You never know, they might be the next police officer out here in Petersburg because I took the time to stop and talk to them," she said.
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