Curtis takes DMV/PS job, replaced by Burau |

Curtis takes DMV/PS job, replaced by Burau


Two Carson City sheriff’s deputies will start new jobs Monday, moving up the ranks in state and local law enforcement.

Bernie Curtis, former chief deputy, replaces retired Ray Sparks as deputy director of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety. As No. 2 man at the agency, he will head the public safety side, overseeing 1,300 to 1,400 employees.

Carson City sheriff’s civil division head, Lt. Scott L. Burau, replaces Curtis in the chief deputy position where he will coordinate officers on the criminal side. Burau will answer to Sheriff Rod Banister and Undersheriff Bill Callahan.

Both men bring a wealth of local law enforcement experience as well as an understanding of the inner workings of government bureaucracy.

Curtis’s law enforcement career spans 30 years, most of that time spent in Douglas County. He worked in California and Washington before returning to Douglas County. He began working for Carson City two years ago.

He was elected as a Douglas County commissioner in 1996 and said he plans to continue as commissioner. “I made a commitment to the people that elected me and I intend to keep it,” he said.

Burau has spent most of his life in Northern Nevada, graduating from Reno High School and later the University of Nevada, Reno. He is a 23-year veteran of the force, working in nearly every detail.

“Over the years I’ve run the gamut,” he said. “But this will be an interesting assignment. It will be good to get back to the criminal end.”

Burau said working the civil side required a much more technical approach. He was charged with coordinating licensing, civil court operations, jury assembly, records and gaming.

Among Burau’s first challenges will be working with city government to build a new dispatch center. The issue has created a rift between city and law enforcement officials in recent weeks, but Burau said he hopes for the best.

“Despite what’s happening politically, our job goes on,” he said. Recently, Burau served as president of the Carson City Sheriff’s Supervisory Association.

Curtis’s qualifications for the public safety job made him a natural, said Department of Motor Vehicle and Public Safety Director John Drew.

“It was pretty easy to decide,” he said. “We had some applicants and I looked at them, but this is an appointed position and I didn’t have to do an extensive search.”

Drew also gave Sparks commendation for the work he did prior to his retirement. “He was well-versed in the law and did an excellent job while he was here.”

Sparks, who is using his retirement to work on his UNR doctoral dissertation, said the size and scope of the public safety programs can be overwhelming.

“The real challenge is the diversity of the programs,” he said. “One thing he (Curtis) can count on: You never know where each day will go.”

After he finishes his education, Sparks predicts that he will likely work for about 10 more years in a different field. “When you get used to working nine- or 10-hour days, it’s a little hard to stop.”