RCMP Staff Sgt. Andrew Burton has been a lot of places and done a lot of different jobs over his 26-year policing career, but he considers Quesnel one of the best postings he has ever had.
Burton is the Quesnel Detachment Commander, and he came to the city just over six years ago following postings in Port Alberni, Merritt, Bella Coola, Kamloops and Smithers.
Burton has served in the RCMP for just over 26 years.
“It was something I wanted to do from the time I was a little boy,”he said. “I remember seeing RCMP and thinking this is exactly what I wanted to do.”
Burton has found many rewards in his career over the past 26 years.
“Professionally, I’ve had a really diverse career,” he said.
Burton spent 12 years on the Emergency Response Team (ERT), where he worked as a sniper, and he has had extensive experience in VIP work.
“I’ve had some pretty neat experiences, like working with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, our prime minister, Japanese royalty, the Governor-General,” he said. “I’ve worked in other provinces for various things like G7 and G8. I’ve worked in Toronto, Quebec, so that was always a lot of fun.”
Burton says Quesnel is a busy and complex detachment, as police officers have a wide and diverse area to cover.
“Quesnel, it’s a very busy detachment, with a large municipal contingent, as well as a rural contingent,” he said. “The members in Quesnel carry a considerably larger caseload than their counterparts in other detachments in the province.”
Burton says one of the challenges they face is working with the resources they have. The philosophy in the RCMP used to be “no call too small,” but these days, with limited resources, police officers just can’t respond as effectively to every call, so the RCMP is working to develop partnerships in the community with agencies such as Bylaw Enforcement, and Mental Health and Addictions.
“It’s all about working smarter,” said Burton. “We’re really working hard to develop partnerships with stakeholders to provide services to improve the overall level of safety and security in our communities. We share some great partnerships with the school district, Mental Health and Addictions, Northern Health and the Ministry of Child and Family Development, as well as with our First Nations governments.”
Burton says these partnerships are crucial because while Quesnel’s crime rates are consistent with the rest of the country, we have increasing chronic social problems that are not simply remedied by police alone.
As a detachment commander, Burton has to look after the welfare of the communities the RCMP serves, but he places a lot of importance on looking after the welfare of the detachment’s members as well.
“We ask a lot of our members, we really do,” he said. “Member wellness is a priority.”
Burton feels Quesnel is a good place to be a police officer.
“I think Quesnel is a very pro-police community,” he said. “Do we have our problems? Yes, we do, but they are the same problems as other communities. We feel supported by the majority of the public. I think people have a better understanding now, and they understand we are one cog in the wheel of the legal system, and we play an important role in that, as do our colleagues in the court system.”
Quesnel is often considered a hard-to-staff detachment because it is so busy, but people who end up here often fall in love with the city, according to Burton.
“People who come here really like it,” he said. “We have several members who have been posted away and have requested to come back to Quesnel.
“During the wildfires, we had 250 Canadian Forces members and police officers posted here, and we showed very well. People really liked Quesnel. When people get here, and they see the people and see the things that are planned for the future of Quesnel, they want to be here, and we are happy to be part of that. I believe the RCMP in Quesnel will be benefactors of the planning that is going on for Quesnel in the future.”
Burton counts himself among those people who really like Quesnel.
“Quesnel is a great community,” he said. “Both my wife and I love it here. It’s one of the best postings I’ve ever had — it really is.”
“I really do enjoy the job, I do,” he added. “I work with some fantastic people. The people I work with — from the senior management team to the newest member, and I include my support staff — are some of the best people I have worked with.
“The people I work with are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.”