Local Gun-Related Crimes Increase as Pandemic Subsides

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Burbank police responded to an incident in which a man was shot and killed in his apartment in late January. A significant rise in the number of recent gun-related crimes appears to be partly due to the easing of pandemic restrictions, a police spokesman said.

Burbank has experienced a striking increase in the number of gun-related crimes so far this year compared with the same period last year, according to local police.

There were three crimes involving a firearm from the beginning of 2020 through May 18 that year, Sgt. Emil Brimway of the Burbank Police Department told the Leader. In the same period this year, there were 15 such incidents. Nine of those were related to a robbery, attempted robbery or carjacking.

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City Budget Bolstered by Federal Stimulus

The city of Burbank will receive its first payment from the most recently passed federal stimulus bill this month, officials said, providing a much-needed influx for the municipality.
City staff told City Council members on Tuesday that Burbank is set to receive the first half of its $26 million portion from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved in March, by May 10. The payment, which will be followed by a second remittance within a year after it is disbursed, will mitigate much of the pandemic-related revenue losses reported to the city’s General Fund.
As a result, despite previous projections, the fund’s balance is expected to clear the red by the end of next fiscal year.
Longer term, however, officials said they expect that tax revenue will take time to recover, with financial services director Jennifer Becker projecting that the city will likely see a $6.8 million recurring General Fund deficit in fiscal year 2021-2022. The deficit, reflecting the gap between regular city revenues such as taxes and expenses such as department budgets, is then projected to remain at roughly $3.3 million annually for the four fiscal years thereafter.
But without the federal aid Burbank is expected to receive, Becker said, those gaps could be much worse.
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Thefts, Other Crime Fell in February

Reports for major crimes in Burbank dropped about 22.4% from January to February, according to recently released data from the Burbank Police Department.
The overall drop in Part 1 “index crimes” — which include an aggregate of incident types tracked to gauge a city’s crime statistics — from 277 in January to 215 in February reflected a less dramatic decrease in theft reports between the two months, from 189 to 164. The number of reports for auto thefts, burglaries and violent crimes also fell.
February’s report total was the lowest for the month since February 2018, when there were 198 incident reports.
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Burbank Police Release Demographic Arrest Data

Burbank police disproportionately arrested and interviewed higher percentages of Black and Hispanic people in the field last year compared with the local population, according to an internal report.
However, the Burbank Police Department said in its report that because so many workers commute into the city, its daytime population is likely “substantially different” from the residential demographics recorded by the U.S. Census. The BPD estimates that the city’s daytime population increases from about 103,000 to more than 200,000 due to commuting workers.
And compared with the racial demographics of Los Angeles County, Burbank officers’ field contacts — arrests and “field interviews” — underrepresented white, Hispanic and Asian people. But Black individuals remained overrepresented.
The BPD declined to comment on the disproportionality beyond what was included in the report.
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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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