Police Department Reports Show Slight Uptick in Crime

Data Source: Burbank Police Department

Crime in Burbank is showing early signs of returning to — even surpassing — pre-pandemic levels, according to January data from the Burbank Police Department.
More crimes are generally reported in December and January than many other months in Burbank, an analysis of the data showed. And after a period last year of a somewhat reduced number of crimes reported often attributed to restrictive health orders, early figures this year show incidents rising again.
Last month, the BPD reported, there were a total of 277 Part 1 “index crime” reports, up from 263 reports in December, which itself had a marked increase from 222 in November.
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Animal Shelter Still Going Strong, Despite the Pandemic

Photo courtesy Burbank Animal Shelter
Stacie Wood-Levin, the senior animal control officer at the Burbank Animal Shelter, is pictured with Pancake the dog, who was later adopted.

When the Chihuahua arrived at the Burbank Animal Shelter about 10 years ago, he bled, had mange and suffered from skin infections that left him furless and nervous, all a result of neglect from his previous owner.
Marissa O’Brien immediately fell in love with him.
“He’s my buddy,” said O’Brien, a shelter employee who adopted the dog, now named Scooby. “He’s had a lot of medical issues, but he’s worth every penny.”
O’Brien, who has worked at the city-run animal shelter for more than 14 years as a kennel attendant and now as a clerk, wants people to know that the facility is still open. The shelter isn’t offering walk-in service, but adoptions are still available via appointment, as are licensing and euthanasia services. The shelter also picks up animals when someone with a pet is arrested.
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Police Push to Receive Vaccines

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
The president of the Burbank police union is expressing frustration that law enforcement hasn’t been included in the county’s vaccine distributions.

As the state and county continue to roll out vaccines to health care workers and elderly residents, Burbank’s police union president says he’s disappointed that law enforcement has been left waiting.
Burbank Police Department personnel were scheduled to receive vaccines last Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 3-4, according to Lt. J.J. Pugilisi, president of the Burbank Police Officers’ Association. But as the dates approached, he said, Los Angeles County shifted gears, pushing back police departments’ reception of the vaccines to allow more residents ages 65 and older to get them.
Though fire departments in the county were included in an earlier wave of vaccinations — Burbank Fire Department personnel received their second doses last week — because they often respond to COVID-19 related emergencies and other health calls, Pugilisi pointed out that police officers often have to be physically close to residents.

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2020 Crime Reports Lowest Since 2014

Though Burbank crime reports continued climbing in the final month of 2020, the year totaled the lowest figure since 2014, according to data from the police department.
Burbank’s total reports for “index crimes” — a selection of seven incident types commonly used by law enforcement to gauge crime rates — were at 2,649 for 2020. That number of index crimes, which include thefts, robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries, was a 5.6% decrease from 2019’s total.
The 2020 crime report total, according to the Burbank Police Department’s statistics, was Burbank’s third-lowest since 2011; only 2013, which had 2,601 reports, and 2014, which had 2,576, had lower counts.

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12 Months That Ushered in Hardship, Change

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Businesses faced strict restrictions, events were canceled and families lost loved ones in 2020 due to the coronavirus — a pandemic that seems to show little signs of receding. Nonetheless, many Burbank residents sought to inspire hope and joy where they could, supporting their neighbors during the tumultuous time.

With the passing of 2020, many would likely be grateful if they never heard the word “unprecedented” again.
The just-finished year’s news cycle was largely dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as its effects on every aspect of daily life. But as COVID-19 surged through California, the United States and much of the world, other stories also hit the front page: renewed calls for racial justice, a frantic election cycle, wildfires.
Through it all, Burbank residents reflected much of what was happening around them, echoing the fear, sorrow and disappointment felt by their neighbors. Many struggled with previously mundane tasks, made frustratingly complicated and often wholly dependent on a decent internet connection. Some lost loved ones. Others saw their small businesses close down forever.
But there were also points — however small — of optimism, determination and hope. Restaurant and shop owners pledged to one day open new businesses. Churches, nonprofits and businesses partnered to give food and other necessities to those in need. Families found ways to celebrate traditions while staying safe, or to remember those who had passed.
And many, over time, learned to adjust to the unprecedented.
Here are some of Burbank’s biggest stories of 2020.

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Obituary | James Morley Gibson Sr.

James Morley Gibson Sr.

James Morley Gibson Sr. will be remembered as a big man with a big personality. Jim passed away December 7, just days from his 89th birthday, which gives us pause to celebrate the many years he has shared with us. Jim was born December 16, 1931 in Glendale to Carl and Cleo Gibson. Jim was the younger of two children and was preceded in death by his elder brother, Carl Reeves Gibson Jr.
On July 26, 1952, Jim married the love of his life, Joyce Marie Petersen, whom he had met at Burbank High School. They were married and lived in Burbank for 51 years before she preceded him in death on May 27, 2003. Jim and Joyce are survived by their three children and spouses: Jim M. Gibson Jr. and wife Anne, Julie Kropf and husband Russ, and Janis Dickey and husband Brad; their six grandchildren: Carrie Hibbard and husband Don, Kristy Willer and husband John, Jennifer and Jaqi Gibson, Kyle Dickey and wife Megan, and Emily Dickey; and their two great-grandchildren, Tim and Brandice Hibbard.
In 1953 and 1954, Jim served as a Sergeant in the Army’s 38th Infantry Regiment during active duty in Korea, earning a Purple Heart, following a celebrated football career at Burbank High School, Glendale College, USC and with the Army; even receiving an invitation to play professional football with the N.Y. Giants.

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Council Projects Optimism Despite Gloomy Budget Outlook

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
A woman enters municipal headquarters, where the Burbank City Council was reminded this week that the General Fund will be in the red by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year unless measures are taken.

The Burbank City Council appeared confident this week that the municipality would find ways to address a projected General Fund deficit caused by the pandemic, though it is not yet clear what a budgetary response would look like.
The city does have some time to figure out its next steps; as staff members reminded the council on Tuesday, the recurring General Fund balance is not expected to be in the red until about June 2022, that fiscal year’s end. At that point, recurring expenses are projected to surpass revenues by $4.1 million.
The annual deficit, according to city projections, will then shrink to $1.9 million in fiscal year 2022-23 and $2.8 in 2023-24, before widening again to $4.3 million in 2024-2025.
“Even though the five-year projections show recurring deficits,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said during this week’s meeting, “it’s not 10s and 15s and 20s [of millions].” He added that it was up to city staff members to determine a budgetary course of action.
Councilman Tim Murphy also pointed out that other cities have announced layoffs due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

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Reports of Aggravated Assault Rise Sharply, Burglaries Fall

Though crime generally appeared to remain flat in Burbank from September to October, reports of aggravated assault more than doubled, while those of burglaries decreased by half.
Recently released data from the Burbank Police Department on reports of “index crimes,” or major incidents that are often used to estimate crime rates, show a total of 201 reports in October, compared to 204 in September.
Nearly all types of crimes stayed steady between the two months, with the exception of two: aggravated assaults rose from seven in September to 15 in October, while burglaries dropped from 25 to 12 during the same period.
“Crime statistics fluctuate from month to month. I have no direct knowledge of anything specific that led to the decline in burglaries and/or the increase in aggravated assaults,” said BPD Sgt. Derek Green in an email.

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Rash of Arrests Reported for Alleged Unemployment Fraud

Photo courtesy Burbank Police Department
The Burbank Police Department reported arresting six people for alleged unemployment benefits fraud in one day in September, retrieving 40 unemployment benefit cards, more than $40,000 in cash and a loaded gun. The department made 20 arrests over the course of the month.

Officers from the Burbank Police Department arrested 20 people on suspicion of unemployment benefits fraud in September, making several of the arrests at a local Bank of America branch.
Unemployment fraud has become more frequent since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to BPD spokesman Sgt. Derek Green. Cards from the California Employment Development Department are sent to people receiving unemployment benefits, but the BPD has reported that some are getting the cards through fraudulent means, using them to withdraw cash.
In some cases, the department made multiple arrests related to alleged EDD fraud in one day.

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Urn Holding Mother’s Ashes Stolen in Burbank

Photo courtesy Burbank Police Department
Burbank police are asking residents for help finding an urn with a mother’s ashes that was stolen from a vehicle this week along with several other items.

Denisha Whittle said she was away from her car for 10-15 minutes — closer to 12, she believes.
And when she came back, she noticed several items had been pulled from the vehicle’s console onto the passenger seat. But her thoughts were on one item in particular: an urn containing her mother’s ashes.
It was gone. So was a laptop, some gold rings that belonged to Whittle’s mother and a jewelry box passed down from her grandmother.
The theft reportedly occurred on Tuesday at about noon near an apartment in the 4400 block on Sarah Street. The urn, which was in a shipping box inside the unlocked vehicle, is inscribed with the name “Anita Sue Fowler.”
“People are crappy, but you don’t have to be that crappy,” Whittle said in a phone interview. “[The urn] is actually priceless to me.”

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