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This car chase is just a game

A white Toyota sedan rounds the corner at the top of the hill at the Starlight Bowl.

The sedan matches the description of a car that has been reported stolen.

Two Burbank police cars and two officers on motorcycles follow closely behind.

Suddenly, the driver bails out of the car and runs into a nearby building. Officers jump out of their patrol cars, red plastic handguns drawn, to give chase.


An officer shouts orders to anyone still inside the vehicle to exit immediately.

A short while later, a K-9 unit arrives and a police dog begins sniffing around the vehicle.

On the radio, an officer in a helicopter surveying the area tells other officers where to set the perimeter for the missing driver.

“Beautiful,” Burbank Police Capt. Mike Albanese says.


Nearly 80 officers from the patrol, gang and traffic divisions spent Wednesday and Thursday in what commanders billed as a rare opportunity to bring several sections together for skills training and team-building exercises.

The two-day training this week tested communication among various divisions of the department, including working with a K-9 unit and air support, Albanese said. Officers also practiced setting up a perimeter, pursuing vehicles and searching for and chasing suspects into structures.

Classroom training on terrorism considerations for first responders was also part of the agenda.

Officer Dustin Rodriguez, who has been with the department for about a year, said having a helicopter, K-9 unit and sergeants working together helped him see how a search or vehicle pursuit could play out in real life.

But he pointed to a hand-held tablet-sized color monitor that allows officers on the ground to see what a camera in the helicopter captures from the air as the most beneficial aspect of the training.

“We can see what the helicopter sees and it gives us a better picture of what’s going on and helped us see where the [patrol] units were and the gaps we needed to fill,” he said. “I hadn’t been able to use the monitor before. It’s a better communication tool for us.”

At night, the system’s infrared ability comes in handy, and its recording capability should prove useful in prosecutions, Albanese said.

Monthly training sessions touch on different topics, themes or needs.


Sessions have varied from presentations on mental health interventions to speakers from the law enforcement community, including former Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division Capt. Richard Meraz, the commanding officer during the Rampart scandal.

On Wednesday, officers received feedback on what they were doing and then discussed fine-tuning the next exercise before switching roles.

“We’re not sitting in a classroom being told how to do something. We’re actually applying it,” patrol Officer Kristiana Sanchez said.