I dropped by a couple of National Night Out gatherings in Burbank last Tuesday and found them to be subdued and sparsely attended. My first stop was the primary event in the parking lot of Burbank Police headquarters on Third Street in the downtown area. At around 6:30 p.m.traffic on San Fernando Boulevard between East Olive Avenue and East Magnolia Boulevard was bumper to bumper,and the sidewalks were teeming with crowds enjoying the warm summer weather.
Once I arrived at the BPD National Night Out I found very few crowds and not much of a celebration. The affair, which has been reduced to a small section of the parking lot, did not have the festive feel it had five years ago when it was held on Chandler Boulevard, drawing big crowds from the neighborhood and throughout the city.
The highlight of this event for me was an encounter with a couple of the BPD’s finest, John Embleton and his K-9 partner Steevo. Both shared their enthusiasm for their jobs with some of the visitors. Officer Embleton answered questions about training and policing.
Next stop, Rose Street off Magnolia Boulevard for a block party, organized by activist Janet Diel and her neighbors.
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse was there along with Burbank police commissioners, William Fletcher and Mark Reyna.
Commissioners Reyna and Fletcher told me they were out to mingle with residents and to learn their concerns. Both expressed a desire for a stronger connection between the community and the commission.
I’m hoping this is not the last National Night Out in Burbank . In a Burbank Leader article council member Dr. David Gordon is quoted as saying it was like “national secret night out.” To attract crowds and the interest of the community, better organization and promotion are needed. Also, let’s bring back the festive atmosphere and get some food trucks! Like any celebration, it’s going to require money as well as effort. If the overall goal is to really strengthen the connection between police and the community then it should be worth it.