HomeCity NewsBurbank Honors 20th Anniversary of Fallen Officer

Burbank Honors 20th Anniversary of Fallen Officer

Nov. 15 marked the 20th anniversary of Burbank Police Department’s fallen officer Matthew Pavelka’s end of watch. In unison with the city of Burbank, the Burbank Police Foundation held a commemorative ceremony at Johnny Carson Park to unveil a plaque and flagpole in memory of officer Pavelka’s ultimate sacrifice.

The 26-year-old Pavelka, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, was hired by the police force on Aug. 5, 2002. Pavelka served as a police officer for only 10 months before being tragically killed in the line of duty on Nov. 15, 2003. He is remembered for his dedication to serving and protecting the residents of Burbank, city officials stated in a press release.

The BPD had not lost an officer in the line of duty by gunfire for more than 83 years.

On the evening of his death, officer Gregory Campbell had stopped a vehicle without license plates, containing two males. The area where the stop was made was well-known for drug trafficking and other criminal activity, police said, so Campbell wisely called for backup.

The first officer to respond was Pavelka. When Campbell and Pavelka approached the suspect’s vehicle and ordered the two male suspects to exit, they both fired their weapons while exiting.

Both Campbell and Pavelka were wounded several times, but in the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the officers mortally wounded one of the gunmen. The other suspect escaped on foot. Both of the wounded officers were transported to a hospital, where Pavelka succumbed to his injuries and Campbell was in critical condition but survived.

On Nov. 27, 2003, the suspect who fled was taken into custody.

“As we pay tribute to officer Matthew Pavelka, we reflect on his extraordinary courage and unwavering dedication, hallmarks of his tenure in the Air Force and his service with the Burbank Police Department,” said Police Chief Michael Albanese. “This plaque and flagpole symbolize his deep commitment and sacrifice, a legacy that will undoubtedly guide and inspire future generations.”

For more information, contact the Burbank Police Foundation by visiting burbankpolicefoundation.org.

First published in the November 18 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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