She was willing to go to the boonies.
When L.V. Rogers grad Lauren Mirva was looking at her options after finishing a four-year degree in criminal justice at Mount Royal in Calgary, she knew there was a chance she’d end up dispatched to some far-flung locale. Instead she ended up right back in her hometown of Nelson.
The 24-year-old had already volunteered with the department, and did her school practicum alongside officers such as Sgt. Dino Falcone, so it was her they had in mind when a position opened up for a new recruit. And now that’s she’s completed her training in Vancouver, she has to re-introduce herself to a community that probably remembers her best as a soccer and basketball star.
“I’ve talked to other members in Vancouver, and the work they do there is different because in Nelson you know everyone. It makes me feel like I’m really a part of this community and have a unique relationship,” Mirva told the Star.
“I feel really blessed to work in this beautiful town I grew up in. I love this community and the people in it.”
Raised by her father, RCMP officer Dennis Mirva, she will now join other locally raised members of the force such as Shawn Zukowski, and under Chief Paul Burkart she will serve as the youngest of their 18-member team.
Her position was made available following the resignation of Drew Turner last January due to an assault conviction. She hopes to inject a distinctly female perspective into her policing and the department.
“I know women in policing is becoming more and more a predominant trend, and I do find it has value in policing because when we respond to a call, if it’s a woman in a domestic violence file she quite often won’t feel comfortable talking to a male and telling him intimate details about her life.”
She’s interested in domestic violence files, and hopes to specialize in them.
Her message for women in the community: “I’m here to listen. If you feel uncomfortable talking to a male police officer at any time, you can contact me. I have time for anyone and I can provide any assistance possible. Everybody has different backgrounds and upbringings, and if you need that extra support I’m here.”
Mirva said her years playing sports prepared her for this role.
“Policing is this subculture that’s all about a family and a team, and that’s super relatable to sports. I find it’s a natural progression to play all these sports and then come on to the Nelson Police Department team. Already I feel so welcome, and a part of the family.”
Mirva has been on duty for just over a month — Christmas Eve was her first shift — and she’s been working with a field trainer who’s showing her the ropes. She will return for more training on the coast in April.
Thus far her primary focus has been fentanyl overdoses, which was recently named the department’s highest priority, and she’s been speaking with students about the dangers associated with drug use. Education is a crucial part of their new harm reduction strategy.
“A bunch of us did silly things growing up, but I don’t think they understand the effects fentanyl has been having. I want to use myself as a role model to show them you can accomplish pretty much anything you set your mind to, and you don’t have to do drugs,” she said.
Her advice for kids: “Find a goal, and work hard to achieve it.”
“A lot of time people think police are just responding and inflicting punishment, scolding people, but a lot of the time in this community we play so many different roles: we’re social workers, we’re victim services, we’re police, we’re everything in one.”
She said “our main priority is to get people the help they need.”
Mirva is grateful for the support she received from her father, her coaches, and the community as she prepared for this role. She wants to do them proud with her service.
“They really helped steer me to this career. The support from teachers, parents and the people in this community, it really helps students and youth to achieve their goals. It’s the people who are around me and who have supported me who have made me who I am, and I’m so thankful for that.”