Val Hunsaker, Regional Manager of the CVSE’s Northern Region (right), presents Gord Handlen (left) the award. /PHOTO SUPPLIED

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Gord Handlen, a supervisor in the Valemount unit of Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE), is the first-ever recipient of the Toni Kristinsson Officer of the Year Award. Officers from across the province were nominated for the award, which annually recognizes one officer who demonstrates compassion, integrity and a commitment to public service.

In an email to the agency announcing the award, CVSE Director Samantha Eburne said that Handlen embodies the core values of public service.

“Gord is an outstanding CVSE officer and leader, who continually displays passion and service to all those around him,” she wrote. “Gord has had a significant positive impact on his team, putting much of his efforts into team building and demonstrating commitment, hard work and integrity.”

The award’s namesake, Toni Kristinsson, was the first CVSE peace officer to be killed while on duty. He passed away on February 1st, 2015, following an accident near Valemount on Highway 5.

Kristinsson is remembered for his kindness, work ethic, and passion for the job, said Handlen – qualities that the award aims to honour.

“He had a good sense of humour. He was fun to work with, very compassionate and dedicated to his job,” said Handlen. “He loved his job, and he loved living in this area. So I think he still would have been here working, and we would have retired together.”

As a supervisor with the CVSE, Handlen spearheaded the initiative to have 24/7 coverage of the highways from Kamloops to Valemount. He emphasized that his team of four colleagues is what made his work over the last year possible.

“I can’t win the award by myself,” he said. “I’ve got a really good team here at Tete Jaune. They’re the best crew on the planet, and it takes a team to get anything accomplished.”