For the first time in its 115 year history, the Nelson Police Department has promoted a female officer to the rank of sergeant.
Sgt. Janet Scott-Pryke was officially given her stripes on June 1, after serving 17 years as a constable in the Nelson department. She’s replacing Sgt. Steve Bank who retired.
“It’s a great honour,” she said. “Promotions are few and far between here because it’s a small department.”
Scott-Pryke is one of only three female police officers to ever work in Nelson, with a fourth coming to them from Police Academy later this year. She attributes the lack of female officers to the fact the Nelson department usually hires veteran cops from other departments.
“It’s harder for an established female officer to pick up and move because their husbands would have trouble finding work here,” she said, noting that a shift towards hiring officers straight out of Police Academy may help close the gender gap.
Prior to transferring to Nelson, Scott-Pryke served nine years in departments in the Lower Mainland. She and her then-husband were both police officers and moved into jobs at the Nelson department at the same time.
“It’s rewarding to work in a small town and get to know all the people that live here,” Scott-Pryke said, noting she most enjoys the community relations part of her job and educating people about what police do, particularly during the annual Police Camp program where L.V. Rogers secondary school students run through drills typical of police training.
Being Nelson’s token female officer never really bothered her.
“I have the exact same training as the guys. If I need to restrain somebody with force, I can and have done it,” she said. “More often I can just talk somebody down, I don’t have to fight them down. I think being female, people are less likely to come at me.”
As sergeant, Scott-Pryke said she’ll have more desk work, as she leads a patrol shift of five men. But she’ll still get out in the cruiser regularly and, as always, will be downtown on Fridays and Saturday nights keeping an eye on things when bars close.
“A lot of the job will be the same,” she said. “Becoming sergeant, it’s really just given me a renewed enthusiasm for what I do everyday.”