Police hit the right notes

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Blue Notes entertain the crowd at the 2010 National Night Out kickoff at the King’s Fork Public Safety Center.

When a handful of Suffolk police personnel aren’t keeping the city safe or spending time with their families, they’re likely getting together to jam.

The Blue Notes, a musical group currently composed of nine Suffolk sworn and civilian police personnel and spouses, is approaching its one-year anniversary of practicing in earnest and showing no signs of slowing down.

“Blue Notes came about some years ago initially,” said Sgt. Paul Burch. “The idea was to have a band of police department members to let people see that police officers aren’t just law enforcement people, but we enjoy other things, like music.”

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The band got together off and on until about a year ago, when Burch decided to revive it. He sent an email to department staff.

“We found out we had more musicians than we thought,” Burch said. “It’s worked out well.”

The nine members get together to practice once per week. Their only official appearances so far have been at the National Night Out kickoff on Aug. 3 and at Taste of Suffolk this weekend. They also are set for the 3-4 p.m. time slot at the Peanut Lounge at Peanut Fest on Oct. 8.

The band’s repertoire includes “a little bit of everything,” Burch said. Everything from beach music and Carlos Santana to jazz and the Dave Matthews Band are in the lineup.

“It’s a melting pot of songs,” Burch said. “We’re trying to appeal to different age groups and different genres of music.”

Because of the ever-changing schedules of police officers, the band includes many personnel who can play the same instrument, Burch said.

“We have people who can step in if somebody else can’t be there,” he said.

Officer Tyron Langston, who plays saxophone and the keyboard, was one of the first to come on board with the group.

“I jumped right on the bandwagon,” Langston said, adding it already has improved relationships with citizens. “I’ve had people out on the street that came up to me [asking], ‘Do y’all do weddings?’”

Burch pointed to the exchange as a benefit of the band.

“That gave him an interaction with a citizen he wouldn’t have had,” Burch said. “He had people on the street asking him questions that probably would never have approached him period. Hopefully as we do more of that, it will increase.”

Burch said the band is open to doing private events, as well. They have yet to hear any complaints.

“The response we got at National Night Out let us know, OK, we’re on the right track,” Burch said.