Burnis Lee Wilkins Jr. was born on March 20, 1961 in Lumberton, North Carolina.
He is the son of the late Burnis & Virginia (Maggie) Wilkins. Burnis, a career sworn Law Enforcement Officer has spent his entire life serving the citizens of our community. He began his career at age 16 as a part-time dispatcher at the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office under then Sheriff Malcolm McLeod. During this same period he became a volunteer firefighter at Northwoods Volunteer Fire Department. He joined the Lumberton Rescue Unit at age 18 as a volunteer EMT, later serving as Captain over training and remains an Honorary Member today after over 35 years of service.
Burnis graduated Lumberton Senior High School in 1979 and began seeking his college degree while working as a Pressman at The Robesonian Newspaper and part time at the Sheriff’s Office. He attended Robeson Community College, Southeastern Community College and Ashworth College receiving a Criminal Justice Degree. Burnis recently transferred all credits to Liberty University seeking a Masters Degree. Burnis is also a graduate of the Police Law Institute and has extensive law enforcement training at St. Petersburg College. In 1981 at age 20, Burnis became Lumberton Police Departments youngest officer. In 1982 he transferred over to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office working his way up from uniform patrol to becoming the Supervisor of the federally and state funded Hoke/Robeson Drug Task Force. In 1990 Burnis was promoted to Chief of Detectives and he and his division were credited with solving two unsolved Murder mysteries; his division had no unsolved Murders during his tenure. In late 1992, Burnis accepted employment as a State Alcohol Law Enforcement Agent with the North Carolina Department of Crime Control & Public Safety (now known as the Department of Public Safety DPS) and was stationed in Wilmington. In late 2002 Burnis returned to the Lumberton Police Department as Supervisor of the Drug Enforcement Unit. In 2010 after an exhaustive background check by the Federal Government, he was selected from several candidates to be sworn as a Special Deputy United States Marshal serving on the Eastern North Carolina Violent Fugitive Task Force. He retired from full time law enforcement in 2012 but remains a sworn Reserve Police Detective. In 2013 Burnis ran a successful campaign for Lumberton City Council and currently serves as a Lumberton City Councilman representing Precinct 3.
Burnis has made thousands of arrest and conducted hundreds of search warrants throughout the state during his 35 years as a sworn law enforcement officer. He has also presented hundreds of felony cases to state and federal prosecutors with successful prosecutions. Burnis has been involved with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for over a decade and has assisted with cases presented to and prosecuted by the United States Attorneys Office. Burnis has presented and continues to present educational programs throughout the state reaching thousands of youth and adults.
Burnis has been training law enforcement officers, rescue/fire personnel and other 1st Responders since 1986 and is also a current part time law enforcement instructor at Southeastern Community College, Bladen Community College and is a Law Enforcement Training Coordinator at Robeson Community College. He has also taught specialty classes at Wilson Community College and at the NC Justice Academy. Burnis was also a co-partner that established the “Public Safety Management Program” and developed the “Drug Investigator Institute Program” and the “Law Enforcement/First Responder Distracted Driving Program” at Robeson Community College, all of which have been requested at other colleges. Burnis possess many specialized state certifications from the NC Sheriffs Training & Standards Commission and the NC Criminal Justice Training & Standards Commission. Burnis has extensive training in the National Incident Management System to include Incident Command procedures used nationally as taught by FEMA and other federal agencies. He is also very well versed and has thousands of hours of training and hands on experience related to law enforcement actions to include Criminal Investigations, Civil Process, Elements of Criminal Offenses, Arrest, Search & Seizure, Human Trafficking, Use of Force, Verbal De-esculation Techniques, Active Shooter, SWAT Operations, Man-tracking and Rural Surveillance, Special Population needs, Major Case Drug Investigations & Interdiction Techniques, Community Policing, Supervision and Budgeting to name a few.
Burnis was elected to his first term as a Lumberton City Councilman in 2013 and will be seeking re-election to that position in 2017 as he forges ahead with his plan to run for Sheriff in 2018. If elected Sheriff, he would step down as councilman and begin his quest to serve the entire county. He would bring forth more ideas and proven tactics that have reduced crime and grime in his precinct. Burnis has used his voice, contacts and his training and experience to clean up his area and uses unconventional means to eliminate drug dealers from his elected precinct. He utilized large floodlights in front of homes that had been identified as drug houses to bring to light the criminal activities that were occurring at night. He has been responsible for numerous tenants being removed from rental properties for being engaged in criminal activity and also led the effort to remove the Roberts Avenue Mobile Home Park. In his quest to remove the mobile park, Burnis made arrangements for tenants to meet with the Lumberton Housing Authority so as to allow willing tenants to relocate to a safer and cleaner environment. Burnis has identified and assisted families in his precinct at Christmas by having the Fire Department Santa deliver gifts to unsuspecting kids each year he has been in office. His efforts will continue as he seeks the position of Sheriff.
Burnis is married to the lovely Jamie Wilkins of Bladen County. Burnis has three children, Suzanne Graham of Fairmont, Eric Wilkins of Granbury Texas and a step-son Justin Burgstresser currently serving in the United States Army. He has 4 grandchildren and both he and his wife Jamie are members of the East Lumberton Baptist Church.