Robert Masten, who recently retired as a lieutenant with the Milford Police Department, is moving on to a new chapter in his life. Masten will now serve as an instructor in the Criminal Justice department at Delaware Technical and Community College.
“I had a desire to serve in the public service sector and enjoyed the education system as well,” Masten said, when asked what drew him to law enforcement initially. “I was drawn toward being a school resource officer, but only wanted to do so here in Milford. I was part of the increase of people called to serve as well following the attacks on September 11, 2001. I routinely would call Keith Hudson at the time asking when the next openings would be available. Dion Brooks and I would routinely joke about the number of calls I made to Keith, but it worked, and I was hired in March of 2002 along with Lt. Dwight Young. The two of us graduated from the Delaware State Police Academy in June of 2002.”
Raised in Milford, Masten’s family roots in the area go back to the 1800s. He was a 1994 graduate of Milford High School and later earned degrees from Delaware Technical and Community College and Wilmington College. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Mississippi. His career with Milford began in the patrol division and he was eventually selected to serve on the Community Policing Unit, something that was a goal of Masten’s when he was hired.
“A promotion to corporal led me back to the Patrol Division where I served until getting the opportunity to serve the Milford School District as school Resource Officer,” Masten said. “I was assigned to the Milford School District until the spring of 2023, when I was promoted to serve the Executive Staff at the Milford Police Department by Chief Ashe.”
Becoming a school resource officer was also a goal of Masten’s when he came to the police department.
“Growing up I had been influenced by many MPD officers and admired the community connections many of them had made, while noticing the difference they made in our community,” Masten said. “I wanted to make that same impact and felt as an SRO I could have that opportunity. I was also very passionate about school safety. A school should be a safe place and I took that very seriously. I was well aware that the parents, staff, and students placed a trust in me to be the first line of defense if the situation arose.”
According to Masten, law enforcement is always evolving, and this meant he and his fellow officers were met with challenges to be sure they stayed current so they could provide the services the city deserved.
“I would say the biggest challenge wasn’t for me personally, but for us as a team, to grow the department at the pace the city was growing,” Masten said. “Overall, we did a good job with that, but navigating the way at times could be challenging.”
As an SRO, Masten also faced some challenges, especially watching some of the struggles students faced.
“It was unfortunate, but there are some students whose time in school is the best part of their day because being at home was not always pleasant,” Masten said. “Knowing some of those struggles and worrying about those students was difficult. At the same time, being able to help those students work through those struggles was rewarding in many cases. There were many cases in which school staff, and I worked together to help students get through difficult times.”
That does not mean that Masten only faced challenges in his career as a police officer and SRO, however.
“Without a doubt the biggest rewards for me were the relationships I made with community members during my time in our Community Policing Unit and the relationships I made as a School Resource Officer. The Milford School District, its staff, and students were great to me. I thoroughly enjoyed going to work every day and left with friendships that will last a lifetime,” Masten said. “I enjoyed the daily interaction with the students. I liked following their successes in school and with their extracurricular activities. Leaving Milford High on my last day as an SRO was much more difficult than I had anticipated, because I knew I was leaving something I loved to do.”
Masten always knew that when he retired, he wanted to teach in the area.
“The timing arose quicker that I had anticipated, but Delaware Tech had an opening, and it is an opportunity that rarely becomes available,” Masten said. “I pursued the opportunity and was honored to be selected. I hope my experience can help mold next generation of law enforcement professionals.”
There will be challenges to overcome in his new position as well, Masten stated.
“Over the years I have done a lot of presenting for intruder trainings, social media/online safety, etc., so, I am comfortable speaking in front of a group, but the lesson planning and class preparation will be new to me,” Masten said. “Making that adjustment will be the biggest challenge. Fortunately, the staff at Delaware Tech has a great process to mentor people like me who are adapting to the change.”
Masten offered advice to those who are considering a career in law enforcement.
“Serving in the public service sector is very rewarding. It’s a profession in which you can help make a difference in people’s lives. You are also in a position where every day is different and presents a new challenge,” Masten said. “I also tell people interested in a career to study the various agencies to explore what they have to offer and ask themselves what they want out of a law enforcement career. There are a variety of law enforcement options in our area and people need to find an agency that is the right fit for them. Obviously, I do usually find a way to convince them to explore the Milford Police Department first as a career choice.”
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