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Longtime officer hangs up badge

The Nelson Police Department honoured one of its longest-serving members Wednesday as Sgt. Pat Severyn began his final shift.
April 6

The Nelson Police Department honoured one of its longest-serving members Wednesday as Sgt. Pat Severyn began his final shift.

An honour guard of colleagues surprised him outside the police station to mark his retirement after 29 years with his hometown force.

“I’m not a real sentimental guy, but this really hits to the heart when I know I’m not coming to work tomorrow,” Severyn, 55, said. “Leaving such a tight knit group of people is difficult.”

Severyn was a Nelson police officer like his father Marsh before him. A talented junior and senior hockey player, he says he “always seemed to be the policeman” on the ice before he was approached about becoming an auxiliary constable in 1982.

“It struck me one day: I grew up here. What an opportunity to really, really, really call a place your own and help people.”

Severyn attended the police academy and then returned home — something his wife Donna says was practically unheard of.

“Everybody said you can’t police your own city. It just doesn’t work. But he said ‘I know all the alleys. I know all the pathways in Gyro Park.’

“He had to prove that it would work. He was the testing ground.”

Since then, she says, other locals have joined the department.

Recently retired chief Dan Maluta read a message from mayor John Dooley, who is overseas. He added Severyn brought great morale to the force: “He lifted our spirits whenever he walked in the door.”

Maluta said Severyn is probably the longest-serving originally sworn member of the department, “and that’s something we all cherish.”

One of Severyn’s recent highlights was working security detail at the Vancouver Olympics, where he became a media celebrity.

As deputy chief Henry Paivarinta put it, with his fuller brush mustache, Severyn “exemplifies what you’d expect an old-fashioned cop to be.”

“I tried to be an ambassador for policemen, not just the police department,” Severyn says.

During the Games, he mentioned his impending retirement to a group of people who asked where he would move afterward.

A man from Austria he didn’t know piped up: “Have you ever been to Nelson? The man works and lives in paradise. Why would you want to go anywhere else?”

Severyn agrees: “I don’t have to be told it’s a great place. I’ve always loved Nelson and I’ll never leave.”

Paivarinta gave Severyn a framed copy of a police magazine that featured him on the cover, and Chief Wayne Holland presented him with a badge of retirement.

Holland called Severyn “the personification of what a truly dedicated police officer should strive to be.”

Following the ceremony, Severyn was back on the beat: he worked until 1 a.m. Thursday to complete his shift.