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.
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.”
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.
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.”