George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason Police captain honored for his efforts in the fight against COVID-19

May 8, 2020   /   by John Hollis

Capt. Michael Lighthiser of the George Mason Police Dept. will be honored with a Mason Presidential Citation for his efforts in helping the community in the fight against COVID-19. (photo provided)

A George Mason University police officer is being recognized with a Mason Presidential Citation for his “relentless” efforts on the behalf of the community in the fight against COVID-19. 

Capt. Michael Lighthiser, a 12-year veteran of the Mason Department of Police and Public Safety, played a key role in helping to make sure that more than 40,000 pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) were distributed to Mason Police, other university departments, and the Fairfax City Police and Fire departments. He also led recent efforts to honor local health care responders serving on the frontline against the virus. 

A virtual ceremony to honor Lighthiser for his outstanding service to the community is expected soon. 

“It’s nice to be recognized,” he said, “but I feel like I wasn’t doing anything different than anybody else in my position would have. It’s been a team effort for sure.” 

Lighthiser, who oversees the department’s special operations, research and training efforts, coordinated the ongoing effort by Mason Police, cadets and faculty from the Forensic Science Department to operate the university 3D printers that are running 24 hours a day to produce PPE accessories that have been distributed to health care workers in hospitals throughout Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The plastic extended straps being produced allow doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to more comfortably wear their protective N95 masks for long periods while treating patients. 

Every package that was delivered contained a “Thank you for your service” message from George Mason University. 

“He succeeded where others fail because he does not accept failure as an option,” Mason Police Chief Carl Rowan Jr. said of Lighthiser. 

Additionally, Lighthiser developed and coordinated the plan to have police and fire departments visit every Northern Virginia hospital within the Inova Health System during shift changes to applaud the medical professionals working so diligently to save lives every day. 

“It’s been a different type of stress on all of us these days but it’s good to contribute,” Lighthiser said. “We’ve had a good turnout all the way around and it makes you feel good.” 

Rowan called the tribute events “a wonderful morale boost for the exhausted medical professionals at those hospitals.” 

“Captain Lighthiser’s excellent work displayed good citizenship, enhanced the reputation of George Mason, and represents community policing at its very best,” he said.