Burbank Police Department Honors Fallen Officer Richard E. Kunkle With Wreath Laying Ceremony

(Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

The Burbank Police Department held a ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to honor fallen Burbank Police Department Officer Richard E. Kunkle on the 60th anniversary of his passing. 

Police Chief Mike Albanese and members of the department gathered outside of Police and Fire Headquarters for the annual ceremony to honor Kunkle’s contributions as a Burbank Police Motorcycle Officer. All parties saluted during a moment of silence as the BPD Honor Guard and one of Kunkle’s grandsons, Sergeant Ty Volin of Oregon’s Corvallis Police Department, placed a wreath by the Guardians statue in front of headquarters. This is a customary offering of the BPD to pay their respects to heroic department members.

Officer Kunkle, who served four years in Anchorage, Alaska before moving to the BPD, passed away while attempting to catch a motorist. A separate vehicle pulled out from a side street during the pursuit, forcing Kunkle to avoid a collision. In evading the car, he was thrown from his motorcycle and later died from his injuries.

(Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

Kunkle’s son, Jerry Kunkle, who previously served as a Los Angeles Police Department Officer before relocating to Washington, was present at the event. He is one of four children, two boys and two girls, of Kunkle’s, and shared memories of his father being childlike away from his work as a BPD officer.

“I miss my dad. I always will,” Jerry said. “His time off from the department when he was home, he was very family-oriented and he did everything with us kids. We used to go hiking, camping up in the mountains [and] we used to go to the park a lot and play. He was a big kid.” 

Stop Outdoor Watering
Burbank Chamber

Including this ceremony, Kunkle has been honored in numerous ways by the BPD since his passing in 1961. In 2012, a wall of heroes mural was added to the gymnasium of department headquarters by artist Jessica Rodrigue, and it includes Kunkle’s name amongst six other fallen BPD officers. More recently, in 2018, artist Jeanine Hattas Wilson created another mural for the department which included a depiction of Kunkle. Aside from his recognition in Burbank, Officer Kunkle’s name is also inscribed at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Jerrry Kunkle (second from left), son of fallen BPD Officer Richard E. Kunkle, and grandsons (from left) Ricky, Ty and Steven gather by the wreath placed at Burbank Police and Fire Headquarters to honor Officer Kunkle. (Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

Other grandsons of Kunkle’s, Ricky and Steven, also attended the ceremony and spoke of their pride in honoring their grandfather’s legacy in the department. 

“I think it’s amazing that they still do this every year to show support for their officers, especially ones that have given their ultimate sacrifice for helping the safety of other people,” Ricky said. “It’s very nice and it makes you feel proud of your family and who they are to remember them, even if you’ve never met them before.”


  1. I want to thank all the members of the Burbank Police Department, both past and present, for being such a great family. My father (Richard E. Kunkle) died in the line of duty as the result of a traffic accident in August, 1961 when I was 12. Before that time and even up to now my family and I have always been accepted as part of the “Burbank Police Department” family.
    Earlier this week the department held a memorial for my dad marking 60 years since his death. I attended along with three of my dads grandsons. One is a Sargent with another department and was allowed to be a part of the honor guard.
    The ceremony was short but not without feeling. The entire swing shift came out to participate as well as the new Police Chief Mike Albanese and Capt. Denis Cremins, who I worked with in the 70’s when we were both on LAPD.
    Growing up in Burbank was fun as both my father and my uncle (Raymond Webb) were Motor Officers here and we attended picnics and ball games pretty much year round. Thank you for all that you do for the families of your officers and the community in general. My family and I are very honored by the tribute your department pays to your fallen officers every year.

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