Burkart new Nelson Police Department inspector
There’s a new second in command at the Nelson Police Department — Inspector Paul Burkart.
The endorsement only makes sense considering Burkart had been “hand-picked” for the Nelson detachment in August, 2000, says Chief Wayne Holland who’s been observing the officer since arriving himself two years ago.
“They had great expectations of him,” says Holland. “He’s most deserving of this promotion.”
With a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Carleton University in Ottawa and a Masters degree in Industrial Relations, Burkart also has 18 years on the job as a police officer. He came to Nelson from the Calgary Police Service where he was for more than five years.
“We were fortunate enough to scoop him up,” says Holland. “He came with amazing credentials.”
Since arriving in the Queen City, Burkart has embraced the community giving of his time outside work hours as a volunteer DARE instructor and soccer coach.
“What was really notable about him is what we always insist on when we’re recruiting people in. He’s someone who’s willing to work in the community as a volunteer,” says Holland. “I think he’s really established himself in his years with us.”
Burkart says his philosophy on policing is something he has maintained throughout his time in Nelson.
Shortly after arriving he volunteered to be the downtown beat officer to get closer to his new community. Interacting on a personal level right from the start gave him an instant feel for what people felt was important when it comes to the safety of the place they call home.
“My philosophy would be that as a police officer I am working in the community and I want to work with the community,” he said. “I think that fits very well with Nelson and my involvement so far has shown that. I want to help make this community better.”
Because of a reorganization of the department, the rank of deputy chief constable is being retired. For the next year to year and a half, the second in command will be referred to as inspector – still officially an officer.
“This provides a little more opportunity for that person to be out on the street with the uniforms more,” says Chief Holland.
In his new job, Burkart will do administrative work, attend committee meetings and work with the City and city council. A good portion remains operational, however, so he will help out on the road and assist supervisors.
Holland says the police board, chief and City all agree with a policy of promoting from within – especially at a smaller police force where opportunities are fewer.
“You really have to shine to get to advanced ranks,” says Holland. “Identifying and promoting from within really sends a message to the troops, from the most junior member all the way to the top, that there really is opportunity for advancement in their career.”
Burkart arrived to Nelson with a young family knowing his opportunities in a small community may be limited.
“You know coming here that you may not have the same opportunities here as you would in the bigger city or with the RCMP,” said Burkart. “I came here with a young family and that was my choice. Fortunately it has worked out pretty well for me.”
Burkart’s prospects continue to be bright.
“The person selected for this spot is being strongly considered to take my place when I get run out of town in two to three years,” says Holland in good humour.
Burkart replaces Deputy Chief Henry Paivarinta who left the department on December 21 after 28 years with the force. Paivarinta quietly enters retirement beginning in May.
“His predecessor was one of his strongest supporters,” says Holland. “Henry was very vocal about Paul being the best person that he could think of to take his place.”
-with files from Bob Hall