Minot Police sergeant finishes longtime career

Submitted Photo Sgt. Paul Burns sits at his desk at the Minot Police Department with his cocker spaniel, Piper.

Closing out 28 1/2 years with the Minot Police Department, Paul Burns said he has been enjoying every minute since his retirement in April.

Burns, who retired as police sergeant, fulfilled a longtime goal to enter law enforcement when he joined the Minot Police Department. For as long as he can remember, he had wanted to be a police officer, he said.

He spent the first several years of life in Buffalo, New York, before moving to Fort Pierce, Florida, and graduating from Fort Pierce Westwood High School in 1985. He joined the U.S. Air Force and came to Minot Air Force Base in 1986. He met his wife, Kimberly, in January of 1987.

Returning to Florida, he attended Indian River State College Police Academy in Fort Pierce. At that particular time, the entire state of Florida was on a hiring freeze, so Burns returned to Minot to attend Minot State University, working toward a major in elementary education with a minor in criminal justice.

He wanted to have something to fall back on just in case he was seriously injured on the job.

However, he did not finish his degree. During his final year, he got a call from the Minot Police Department, offering him a job.

He left college to work full time with the department.

Over the years, he was able to fulfill the reason he became a police officer in the first place.

“As cliche as it sounds, I wanted to help people,” Burns said.

He responded to multitude types of cases, including investigating car crashes and walking someone through the process of finding the proper information; helping elders find where an incessant beeping is coming from and replacing batteries in smoke detectors; and responding to domestic violence and helping the survivor get out of the situation, as well as the usual police role to “catch the bad guy.”

The calls he preferred to stay away from were accidents, though.

“They’re time consuming and there’s no pen to paper anymore. Everything is done on the computer,” Burns said.

Burns is still old school, preferring to take his notes and file reports the old-fashioned way.

When Burns first started on the force, there were no cameras in the cars. The first dash cameras were eight-millimeter cameras and the VCR that recorded was in the trunk. Everything now is digital. Back in the day, body cameras were not an easy possibility, but Burns said he likes having the body camera.

Other reasons he joined the police force were the excitement, the fact that no day is ever the same and the knowledge that he wouldn’t have to work a desk a bulk of the time.

He worked his way to the rank of sergeant and could have gone higher, but he preferred to stay away from the administrative part of the job.

“I like being out on the streets with the officers and catching the bad guys,” Burns said.

The first gun he ever used on the job was a Smith and Wesson 9 mm. He went to an H&K 45 mm handgun until it was required that all officers had to carry department-issued 9 mm Sig Sauers.

Aside from serving in the Air Force, he also served in the Army National Guard and the Air Force Reserves, for a total military service span of 31 years.

Now that he is retired, he gets to spend his time with his wife, their daughter, Autumn, and their cocker spaniel, Piper. The family plans to stay a few more years in North Dakota before moving to Tennessee.


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