Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove —Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr
I don’t know if he was pushed or he volunteered, but Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr is heading for the door. The announcement appeared a short while ago on the Burbank city website. It comes almost a week after that volatile council meeting where Councilman David Gordon called for an emergency action to consider putting Chief Stehr on administrative leave. His fellow council members balked and refused to consider the motion.
Last Friday afternoon, I published a post on this blog, “Time for serious change in Burbank,” calling for the police chief to step aside or to be put on administrative leave for the good of the BPD, the city, and its citizens. Stehr’s ability to lead has been severely damaged by the investigations, lawsuits, low morale, the suicide death of Sergeant Neil Thomas Gunn, Senior, and other problems in the department. The decision was slow in coming, but it was the right one. Here is the announcement from the Burbank website.
Burbank Police Chief to Retire
BURBANK, Calif. (November 9, 2009)– Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr will officially step down from his post on December 31, 2009.
“It has been my absolute privilege to serve as Chief in the City of Burbank,” says Stehr. “Our department is facing challenging times. The healing process will be a long one but I have tremendous confidence in the brave men and women of our department and the citizens of this community. As I prepare to retire, I wish to thank all those who made the department’s success possible.”
Stehr joined the Burbank Police Department in 1978 as a cadet and served in a variety of roles before being named Chief in 2007.
City Manager Michael Flad says an Interim Chief will assume duties no later than January 1stwith Chief Stehr assisting in the transition for 30-60 days.
UPDATE 7:52 p.m.
I spoke with Burbank Councilman David Gordon by phone a few minutes ago. Now that Police Chief Tim Stehr is leaving, Councilman Gordon says “…I am hopeful…. there will be new outside leadership coming in… to cast new independent view of the important issues facing our police department…”
New leadership with fresh ideas. I agree. That’s the kind of change that is needed in the Burbank Police Department and in city government as well.
UPDATE 11/11/09 Police Chief Tim Stehr speaks
In an opinion piece published last night on the Burbank Leader website, outgoing Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr gives his reason for stepping down and comments on a number issues, including misconduct in the BPD. Here is what the chief wrote:
I have decided to retire after a more than 31-year career with one of the most professional and top-quality law enforcement agencies in this state. This is an extremely difficult decision for me to leave this department, where I have had such a rich and rewarding career.
I have spent virtually my entire adult life here at the Burbank Police Department. I met my incredible wife here, her family and so many great people who have become lifelong friends.
I regret that I am prevented from fully commenting on the investigations and litigation that seem to be so consuming to the city, but I want to assure the community that the men and women of this department are totally committed to the safety of this city.
I would like to comment on something that seems to be misunderstood and misrepresented in the many public discussions of these issues, and that is the Police Department’s legal duty to investigate all complaints of misconduct.
When a citizen brings allegations involving the misconduct of a Burbank police officer to the attention of the Burbank Police Department, the Police Department is mandated by law to conduct an administrative investigation. When a citizen’s accusation of misconduct is so egregious that if true, it would constitute criminal misconduct, the Police Department refers that accusation to an independent law enforcement agency to conduct a criminal investigation. Under those circumstances, the police officer is placed on administrative leave, with full pay, pending the outcome of the administrative investigation, and possibly the criminal investigation.
Currently, one or more citizens have accused several Burbank officers of misconduct. Those accusations are under administrative investigation by an independent investigator hired by the Burbank Police Department, with the approval of the City Council. In addition, the Burbank Police Department referred the accusations of misconduct to an outside law enforcement agency.
I believe that my continued service here is a distraction that the city and the department do not need, and that is why I announced my retirement. I am proud of my record of service to this community at every step of my career, from cadet all the way to chief.
As chief, I do not regret the actions I took to investigate complaints of misconduct, to refer the complaints to an outside agency for criminal investigation, and to punish those who were found to have acted inappropriately. The Burbank community deserves nothing less than a full and complete investigation of all allegations of misconduct. I have acted at all times with the full knowledge of, direction and advice from the special outside counsel and investigator appointed for this purpose by the City Council.
I have many great memories and career accomplishments that I am very proud of. I want to thank the city manager for giving me the opportunity to serve this department as chief, and I hope only the very best future for this department and this city.
I especially want to thank my incredible family, my wife, Barbara, my children, Cory and Jessica, my in-laws, extended family and friends who have provided me with unconditional love and support throughout my entire career.
MORE COMMENTS from Chief Stehr on his departure and reaction from the Burbank Police Officer’s Association President, Detective Mike Parrinello, in an article by Burbank Leader reporter Christopher Cadelago, which is also posted on the newspaper’s website.