HomeCommunity NewsPolice Foundation Honors Burbank, Regional Law Enforcement

Police Foundation Honors Burbank, Regional Law Enforcement

Photos by David Laurell

A gathering of more than 300 individuals from government officials and business leaders to those representing the Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles Police Departments, local nonprofit organizations and members of a grateful community convened at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel to honor police officers, city employees and volunteers on Tuesday.

Welcomed to the sixth presentation of the Burbank Police Foundation Awards Luncheon by the organization’s president, former Mayor Michael Hastings, the assemblage paid tribute to men and women who have shown exemplary efforts in serving the Burbank community.

“Each and every one of [today’s] honorees deserves our recognition for a job well done, and their efforts over and above the call of duty,” said Hastings before introducing Burbank Police Chief Michael Albanese and Dr. Michael Cusumano who represented the event’s sponsor, the Cusumano Real Estate Group.

This annual ceremony, which has been on hiatus since 2020 due to the pandemic, saw honors bestowed on those who have risked their lives to save children from a horrific fire, drug overdoses, a suicide attempt, assaults and accidents.

This year’s award ceremony also paid tribute to those who worked diligently to solve the decades-old cold case murder of 22-year-old Mary Duggan in June 1986. Others honored included those who have been of compassionate service to clearing the possessions of Burbank’s unhoused, provided a safe haven and comfort to children who come into protective police custody, and given longtime volunteer service to the Burbank Police Department.

Among the highlights of the awards ceremony was the bestowing of the Medal of Valor, given for placing one’s life in danger for the protection and safety of others, upon five sworn officers, Sgt. Christian Diaz and officers Jose Plascencia, Ricardo Gutierrez, Austin McKinney and Grant Bickel. The Medal of Valor, the highest honor the foundation bestows, was given for the heroic action the men took in saving children from an apartment engulfed in flames and smoke in 2022.

Six officers, Rory Timlin, Kate Blackman, Peter Choi, Marsha Laufer, Courtney Pinsky and David Mejia, were also presented with the Lifesaving Medal for their actions that resulted in the saving of preservation of human life.

Along with the bestowal of honors for professional esteem to city employees, special recognitions were given for selfless service to the community by citizens. Nancee Rodriguez, the mother of Domestic and Family Crimes Unit, Detective Dustin Rodriguez, received a Citizen Award for the work she did in providing a safe harbor for children in police care. A Volunteer of the Year Award was also presented to Jackie Light for her 18 years of volunteer service to the Burbank Police Department. 

While the culmination of this event sees the awarding of a Non-Sworn Employee of the Year and the Officer of the Year Awards, due to the pandemic’s interruption of the event, the foundation gave those honors for both 2023 as well as, retroactively, the three prior years.

Forensic Specialist Supervisor Carly Lott was named the 2023 Non-Sworn Employee of the year, with jailer Mayra Robles being honored for 2022, Public Safety Facility Technician Joe Farrow for 2021 and Senior Administrative Analyst Maricela Vega for 2020.

Receiving Officer of the Year honors for 2023 was Robert Martinez while the three prior honorees were Detective John Voorhis for 2022, Sgt. Christian Diaz for 2012 and Sgt. Aaron Kay for 2020.

Among the numerous dignitaries and notables in attendance for Tuesday’s luncheon were Mayor Nick Schultz, Vice Mayor Nikki J Pérez, City Councilmembers Tamala Takahashi and Zizette Mullins, City Clerk Kimberley Clark, City Treasurer Krystle Ang Palmer, City Manager Justin Hess, City Attorney Joe McDougall, former Mayor Bob Frutos, BPF President-Elect Christine Hatch and Glendale Police Chief Manuel Cid.

The Burbank Police Foundation is a community-based organization that cultivates a solid partnership between the Burbank Police Department and the residents, businesses and institutions it serves, in order to enrich Burbank and to enhance police services.

The composition of the Board of Directors of the Burbank Police Foundation consists of active members of the Burbank Police Department appointed by the Chief of Police Michael Albanese and the Burbank Police Officers’ Association along with members of Burbank’s residential and business communities.

The foundation is a not-for-profit organized and supported by Burbank residents, the local business community and members of the Burbank Police Department independent of the city of Burbank.

First published in the February 16 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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