On Thursday, June 17, Norma Brolsma completed her last day as Administrative Analyst for the Burbank Police Department after 41 years of service to the city.
At Burbank’s Police and Fire Headquarters, a group of long-term BPD employees gathered to celebrate Brolsma’s retirement with a cake and ice cream party on June 16. Here, Brolsma was presented with her retirement plaque from the City of Burbank, as well as offerings of gratitude from Disney and Warner Bros. Studios.
Brolsma was born and raised in Burbank, and attended Burbank High School before studying at L.A. Valley College. She has resided in the city throughout her professional career, and has remained enthralled with Burbank’s atmosphere and services as a resident and employee.
“It’s still…a quaint town,” Brolsma said of Burbank. “We have the best police and fire services. We just have an awesome city, and…I love living here.”
As she attended Valley College, Brolsma’s aunt, who began working for the City in 1949, encouraged her to take a civil service exam and likewise explore work opportunities within the City of Burbank. While first taking on a library clerk position for seven months, Brolsma then heard of an opening in the Personnel and Training Bureau for the Burbank Police Department. She advanced to gain this new position, where her initial duties included background typing for hirees and working on payrolls.
Filming in the city was expanding during this time, and Brolsma subsequently moved to the department’s Traffic Bureau next, where she remained for over 25 years. One of Brolsma’s duties within the bureau was acting as an intermediary between the police department and film industry, where she oversaw filming on the city’s end for such projects as television series Reasonable Doubts and The Goldbergs, and films The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Addams Family, and Captain Marvel. When Brolsma began this role in 1981, 130 film permits were issued by the City of Burbank annually, and by 2019, 1,600 permits had been issued for the year. Coworker and Burbank Police Lieutenant J.J. Puglisi says that Brolsma’s “stellar customer service,” “professionalism and infectious smile” fostered this large influx of filming in the city.
“It was such a great ride that we did in my career,” Brolsma said of organizing filming in Burbank. “It just grew, and I got to know the community and I was able to mediate between the city and the citizens. I think that that’s what I really enjoy, just knowing my community, knowing where they could film where it was just a fun job for me.”
Brolsma’s family together has a combined record of working for the City of Burbank for over 200 years. Her family members who have been employed by the city include Mary Estrada of the Burbank Police Department, who was with the city for over 50 years, Salvador Moreno, who served the Burbank Public Works Department for over 42 years, Bennie Lucero, and Joe Santacruz, both of whom served over 30 years to the city, Tim Loya and Paula Lucero, who now works as Deputy Chief of DMV investigations for the State of California. As she followed in the footsteps of many family members, Brolsma consistently found a second family amongst her amiable peers at the police department.
“I think the best is that the department itself is just family-oriented, we were there for each other throughout the years,” Brolsma said of the BPD. “It was just really a tight-knit group…they’ll be there for you. And that’s what I loved about working at the PD’s office.”
In 2014, Brolsma’s professional achievements earned her the Magnolia Park Optimist Club of Burbank Civilian Employee of the Year Award. She was also named Police Department Employee of the Month in 1993, and Police Department Employee of the Year in 2013. Furthermore, throughout her career, she received several accolades from the City for her work in conducting cultural awareness projects and addressing domestic terrorism.
As diversity expanded in the city over the years, Brolsma also took part in the BPD’s efforts to approach locals with questions regarding how the department was serving their needs, with the goal of continuously improving the BPD service model. Brolsma described this progressive endeavor as “an honor” and “a beautiful experience.”
“I was so proud to be part of that, to go out… embrace your community, and [ask locals], ‘What did you think of [the BPD]? And where can we improve and what can we do for you?’” Brolsma said. “That’s just not the PD, that’s Burbank.”
Puglisi spoke at the cake and ice cream celebration to honor Brolsma’s years with the BPD and City of Burbank. He worked with Brolsma for over 27 years, and from 2009 to 2012 oversaw the film permit office of the police department. He called the experience “bittersweet” as he and other long-term department staff members expressed their thanks for Brolsma’s work in advancing the BPD.
“It was an honor to be able to recount all of [Brolsma’s] positive contributions,” Puglisi said. “However, it is always difficult to say goodbye to someone who has been such a longstanding part of the Burbank Police Department family.”
Although she’s completed her role with the BPD, Brolsma still plans to carry out volunteer work for the city in the near future. After 41 years working for the City of Burbank and 28 years as President of the Burbank City Employees Association, her desire to stay involved in the city stems from the mutual respect held between the City of Burbank and its community members.
“We serve our community well,” Brolsma said of city staff. “One of the biggest things I saw with [BCEA] members, trash collectors, Parks and Rec employees, the secretarial field, it’s that they’re proud of their work and they know they know the community holds them in high regard. They know that what they do out there means something and they take pride in their work.”
Thursday marked Brolsma’s final work day before her planned retirement, which she had lined up two years prior to its arrival. Although her emotions had been running high leading up to June 17, Brolsma’s last day of service ended on a tranquil note as she found comfort in her positive memories and accomplishments within the City.
“It was a very emotional roller coaster to say goodbye and to thank [coworkers],” Brolsma said of her final days on the job. “But by the end of the day,… it was a happy feeling. The tears had gone, and happiness was truly in my heart thinking, this was a fun ride and it’s time to get off. I truly have been blessed.”