Within our agency Nancy Burke is known as the lifesaver who brings us back to work after injuries sustained on and off the job. Nationally and internationally, she’s known as the woman who designed the first law enforcement athletic training program for a police department at the local level. In the first six months of 2017 alone, she received nearly 400 visits and provided 2,300 treatments to employees in our agency.
Twelve years ago Burke worked with a commander from our academy to launch the athletic training program, which she based on Division I professional sports. While several federal agencies have athletic trainers, Burke’s program was the first of its kind in the United States to make professional services available full-time and at no cost to officers serving at the local law enforcement level. Thanks to Burke, our agency has become the nation’s model for athletic training in a local law enforcement setting.
Burke previously worked as an athletic trainer for Fairfax County Public Schools and retired in 2005 after 29 years. Officers working overtime assignments at local high school ball games took note of her expertise and turned to her regularly for advice. She began to realize resources which were available to high school athletes were not as easily available, affordable and accessible to men and women whose jobs depend on their physical and mental wellbeing. “We have to protect our people, we have to take care of them,” she said of officers.
The initial goal was to reduce medical costs by 10 percent, and decrease the time an officer or employee was out of work after an injury. According to Burke, the goal was achieved and surpassed, reducing medical costs for recruits in our academy by up to 90 percent. Officers have been returning to full-duty status in much less time than ever before. “The more frequent the care, the better and faster the recovery,” Burke said.
Burke, who is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Medicine and has authored a number of publications, is retiring for the second time after 12 years with our agency. She has numerous fond memories with the Fairfax County Police Department she will continue to share with others. “You all accepted me as part of your family, and that’s dear,” Burke said of the police department. “This is the most valuable thing I’ve ever done…by far the most rewarding.”
Burke’s last day is August 11. She will be missed, and will always be a member of our police family.
Recent Awards & Honors
2017 – Chief’s Eagle Award – Fairfax County Police Department, Office of the Chief
2016 – General Officer Safety Award – Destination Zero [U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Washington, DC]
2015 – Employee Outstanding Performance Award [Fairfax County Government]
2014 – Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association (MAATA) Hall of Fame
2013 – Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame
2012 – Valor Award (Lifesaving) [Fairfax County Police Department]