Ending a 30-year career
For the second time in his law enforcement career, Mike Matheson has made a major decision regarding his future.
Instead of switching agencies and uniforms like he did more than three years ago, Matheson has decided to turn in his badge and service revolver and enter the life of retirement. After spending more than 30 years in law enforcement, beginning first as a patrolman for the Yerington Police Department and then as a trooper with the Nevada Highway Patrol, Matheson concluded his career as a captain in the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office.
“I planned on doing this for 30 years,” said Matheson, who retired the first week of January. “I feel like I accomplished my goals in the time I had intended to. It’s been everything I thought it would be, and it’s a good way to finish my career.”
Matheson has entered the next chapter of his life. Although his wife is a teacher, they plan to travel during the summer and want to see their daughter play college volleyball in Ohio during the fall.
During the past three years, Sheriff Ben Trotter saw Matheson gain additional knowledge in a smaller department.
“He has admitted that his knowledge of policing was expanded to a significant degree by assisting on the huge variety of calls local law enforcement handles,” Trotter said. “We don’t have the luxury of being so singularly focused as NHP is on traffic enforcement and collisions. We get search and rescue, coroner, domestics, dogs and cows, actual criminal activity … .”
The Yerington native had spent more than 20 years as a trooper, most of the time driving the highways out of the Fallon District office in what he called his “dream job.” Occasionally, Matheson filled in as an acting sergeant, a role that whetted his appetite to become a supervisor. After retiring from the NHP in May 2013, Matheson moved over to the CCSO where Trotter, who had known him for 20 years, hired him as a captain in charge of detention, dispatch and later the SWAT team. Trotter said it was an easy decision hiring Matheson.
“It broadened my experience and broadened my opinions,” Matheson said of his final law enforcement position.
With a supervisory position came more responsibility, prompting Matheson to reminisce back to his days as a patrolman where he enjoyed his time behind the wheel.
“The higher you go, the more responsibility,” he said, grinning.
Yet, Matheson brought his NHP experience to Churchill County.
“What Mike brought to the SO was balance, fair and consistent leadership for our staff,” Trotter said. “He was approachable, helped out both on the road and around the facility and displayed an even temperament and consistent hand in guiding staff. These traits are not always easy to replace and time is the best gauge of success.”
Trotter said law enforcement personnel appreciated Matheson’s professionalism and respected him. As sheriff, Trotter said it was imperative to have fellow administrators who he could trust to make decisions in his absence that were reflective of what the sheriff would do. Trotter said he trusted Matheson. Trotter said his “right-hand” man also possessed a great balance between his career in law enforcement and his personal life.
“I am very thankful to the sheriff and to Mark Joseph (retired CCSO captain) who allowed me the opportunity to serve here,” Matheson said.
In addition to expanding his knowledge with the sheriff’s office, Matheson had the opportunity to work with Trotter on some of the planning of the new law enforcement center on B Street. Matheson said the process has been interesting.
“The sheriff has been very farsighted in planning for it,” Matheson said.
After graduating in 1984 from Yerington High School, Matheson attended Southern Utah University in Cedar City before transferring to the University of Nevada, Reno and majoring in criminal justice. Matheson returned to Yerington, where he eventually became a full-time officer. In 1991 NHP accepted his application, and he attended the academy. The NHP sent Matheson to Elko, where he spent several years, and then to Fallon in 1993.
“The experience with NHP was invaluable for me,” Matheson said of how he approached the public. “How to deal with people, I think, was the biggest thing. One of my strong points was being able to deal with people in different situations.”