Return of National Night Out Strengthens Ties Between Burbank Police Department and the Community

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(Photo by© 2021 Ross A Benson)

National Night Out returned to Burbank on Tuesday, August 3, reinforcing a strong sense of camaraderie amongst members of the Burbank Police Department and local residents.   

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Johnny Carson Park served as the main hub of the event, where BPD officers landed a police helicopter, displayed SWAT equipment and police vehicles, and conversed with guests throughout the four-hour-long function. Among those in attendance were Burbank interim Police Chief Mike Albanese, BPD Lieutenant J.J. Puglisi, and other members of the Command Staff, Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos, Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, and Burbank City Council Members Sharon Springer and Konstantine Anthony.

Numerous tent setups from local organizations such as The Burbank Animal Shelter, Burbank Parks and Recreation, the Burbank Teachers Association, and the Burbank Transportation Management Organization were spread around the park for the gathering. Many of these pop-ups offered informative handouts, merchandise, and interactive games for visitors.

(Photo by© 2021 Ross A Benson)

Aside from this location, National Night Out included a few neighborhood block party areas, each of which were visited by BPD Command Staff members and Police Commissioners. Furthermore, the Burbank Fire Department brought a fire apparatus to the event locations for passersby to view.

At Vickroy Park, Laura Frutos hosted a party where the Road Kings were present, and resident Frank De Jesus and his son’s Sebastian and Dorian set up a Hot Wheels track as part of the automobile theme. Resident Ashley Erikson separately hosted a block party amongst a group of neighbors on her Burbank street, which is a tradition she and nearby residents have maintained for the past several years. Partygoers socialized, ate from food trucks Burnt to a Crisp and Kona Ice, celebrated a “Hometown Heroes” theme, and collected donations for Burbank organizations like the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and The Burbank Animal Shelter at Erikson’s celebration.

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“It’s been so nice to see everyone coming out from the community and the neighborhood, [and] meeting new neighbors that moved in this year that we hadn’t met,” Erikson said.

Tuesday night’s festivities allowed for guests of all ages to join in on the fun. Neighborhood block party participant Tyler Gogerty spent time with friends and enjoyed the nearby food truck menu at the City’s first National Night Out in nearly two years. 

“It’s really cool because we get to have lots of people and see a lot of people again, which is nice,” Gogerty said. “Getting to hang out with my friends is [a] fun part [of the party], and getting snow cones.”

The event was organized by BPD Community Resource Officer Karissa Peltier, who was appointed to her current position in March of 2020 following contributions to the department’s Patrol Division. As the majority of events since the emergence of COVID-19 have been canceled, the department was not certain that National Night Out would return for 2021. Peltier began planning two months in advance, however, secured a strong group of vendors, and formed a celebration promoting community togetherness. 

(Photo by© 2021 Ross A Benson)

“It’s been a whirlwind of a process doing this,” Peltier said of planning National Night Out. “This is my first National Night Out …[and] my very first community event. It’s the biggest one we throw, and so the pressure was on to perform and make sure everything [was] set up appropriately and we have everything we need.”

National Night Out is one of the numerous BPD functions prioritizing meaningful engagement with Burbank residents. Others include Coffee with a Cop, which returned on July 31 of this year, and the department’s informative Community Academy. In his recent role as interim Chief of Police, Albanese has already begun to place an emphasis on serving locals through these measures. He expressed his gratitude for being able to continue this mission in person after a long stretch of social distancing. 

“It’s pretty terrific…getting to see folks I haven’t seen for over a year and a half,” Albanese said of the National Night Out’s return. “And the fact that [we] get to see each other, [experience] fellowship, get reacquainted, find out how everybody’s doing, and [see] all the support… is pretty awesome. For my maiden voyage, this has been great.”