A human touch: student of leadership becomes Midvale police chief
Dec 01, 2016 02:59PM
● By Travis Barton
Recently appointed Midvale Police Chief, Jason Mazuran. Mazuran replaces retiring police chief Tony Mason. (Unified Police)
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Midvale City appointed Jason Mazuran as its new police chief in September to replace the retiring Tony Mason. As part of a family legacy, Mazuran’s great uncle was also the Midvale police chief in the 1950’s.
“Midvale is a great place to be and great place to work,” Mazuran said.
Mazuran arrived in Midvale City with a wealth of law enforcement experience. The Skyline High School graduate has worked a variety of positions since beginning his field training in the Kearns/Magna area.
Mazuran’s positions have included patrol, detective, motor group, internal affairs, watch commander, narcotics investigations, special operations, major investigations, sergeant, lieutenant and executive lieutenant commander of Unified Police Department. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, he worked as a SWAT team member. And, he knows the Salt Lake valley well, having worked in six cities.
Angie Mazuran, Jason’s wife of 20 years, said he’s done a lot in his career experiencing all levels of law enforcement.
“[That experience] makes him very effective in leading others because he’s been there and done it,” Angie said. “He’s very dedicated to whatever he’s been assigned to.”
While learning and enjoying each of his stops, the most formative may have been while working as a SWAT team leader where he learned the importance of leadership by example.
“It was like being in a leadership laboratory…people on SWAT are amazing people, but they don’t have to follow you if they don’t want to,” Jason said. The experience proved to be continuous fuel on an already burning fire Jason holds for leadership. Considered all the more important in his new position leading a precinct.
True leadership is service, Jason said, and people who inspire and influence do so through “the power of their person.”
“You have to genuinely care about the people you work for. Leaders work for people, not the other way around,” Jason said. He likened the precinct to an upside-down pyramid where the most important people at the top are the officers on the street.
“If they’re not out there, the mission doesn’t get done,” Jason said. “My whole job, in my opinion, is to facilitate, support and do everything I can to make sure the officer on the street has all the tools to get the job done.”
Lori Shaw, office coordinator of the Midvale precinct, interacts with Jason on a daily basis. She said he’s a great motivator which makes people want to come work for him, noting the large swaths of people who have told her how lucky Midvale is to have him.
An avid reader of history with more than 1,000 books in his personal library, Jason draws on multiple sources to learn about leadership, including books on George Custer,’s failure, Nathaniel Fick, Dick Winters and Marcus Luttrell to name a few.
Jason keeps a copy of a quote by Fick, a former US Marine Corps Officer, in his office wherever he goes. It’s about moral and legal authority, an essential concept to leading, Jason said.
“Legal authority is something bestowed upon you, that’s a rank someone’s given that to you,” Jason explained. “Moral authority is completely different, it’s what you earn when you develop the trust of your people and you’re a servant leader and you care deeply about them and their families.”
Remembering the quote by John F. Kennedy that leadership and learning are indispensable, Jason said it’s an ongoing process to be in learning mode.
“Leadership is a really complex thing, it’s an art form, you never stop developing or learning and I still work on it every day,” Jason said.
Angie said she’s witnessed his growth as a leader.
“He’s very thoughtful about his approach to leadership,” Angie said. “He’s grown a lot over the years in terms of his teaching ability and his ability to work with others and work through problems and strategy for what’s best for the office, the people and the public.”
Shaw said Jason is respected by his peers because of his willingness to learn.
“He’s a great listener, he takes input from everybody,” Shaw said.
That human element is important to Jason. It’s evident in his main focuses for Midvale, starting with community policing—a concept he absorbed while on patrol in Millcreek and Holladay.
“When that team approach happens, there’s true interface between police and community, how effective it can be to solving problems and improving quality of life,” Jason said. This means that the precinct is providing good customer service and refining its humanistic policing.
“We’ve got to be cognizant all the time that we’re dealing with human beings and we have to have that human touch,” Jason said. “It’s really satisfying in policing when someone comes up to and says, ‘hey you saved my life or you changed my life,’ where you realize how profound an impact you had.”
With a national dialogue about police de-escalation tactics coming to the forefront over the past year, the ability to maintain humanistic policing has become critical.
Recently, a Midvale police officer dealt with a suspect who admitted to attempting to get an officer to shoot him.
“You’re dealing with real people in wildly dynamic moments, if you think every situation is going to go smoothly, it ain’t,” Jason said. He added that if you measure the amount of contacts police officers experience with the public every year, “the percentage of those contacts that actually end up tragically is so minute.”
While Jason admits police make mistakes, he said it’s important to remember the amount of people and factors that go into the job.
“If there’s a job in this planet that’s impossible to do perfectly every day it’s law enforcement,” Jason said.
As for his time Midvale, Jason said he really enjoys the people and the city.
“There’s a lot of soul in Midvale and you can feel that when you’re out in the community,” he said.