Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove
A cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the city of Burbank, the “Media Capital of the World.” The uncertainty is not linked to the prominent entertainment industry in town nor is it fallout from the sluggish economy. No, it’s the city’s police department, which is the focus of this negative energy.
For weeks now the rumors and suspicions about allegations of police misconduct, lawsuits, indictments, and other police issues have been swirling around this San Fernando Valley city of 100,000 residents. Earlier this month, the Burbank Leader published an article about a private meeting on May 4 attended by rank-and-file union police officers to discuss their concerns.
Also, the Leader printed an internal police union memo about an April session between Chief Stehr and two officials of the Burbank Police Officers’ Association to discuss a number of pressing topics including: “morale, division among the members, lack of confidence in the Chief and administration, racial discrimination, rumors, perceptions, anonymous letters, lawsuits, inequities, current criminal cases, and negative events believed to be coming.”
At the May meeting, police union members reportedly decided to try to work through these issues with the chief rather than take a no-confidence vote. Last night, during a break in the proceeding at the city council meeting I talked briefly with Chief Stehr who said he was confident he could lead the Burbank police department through this difficult period. Still, Stehr admitted, “… there are some issues…” but insisted “… (we will ) work together to fix them.”
Last week, I got an e-mail response from the Chairman of the Burbank Police Commission, Joe Gunn, about the situation: “The Chief had informed me of the issues before I left on a three week vacation and I am confident that he is taking all of the necessary steps to alleviate the problem. He maintains our trust and respect relative to his professional duties.”
Meanwhile, listed on last night’s printed city council agenda, a closed session item involving litigation and a case of “alleged violation of civil rights arising out of claimed wrongful and prolonged detention.” Is this one of the cases that has the Burbank police department in turmoil?
Clearly, there are some behind the scenes activities and negotiations going on in Burbank. Nevertheless, residents deserve to know what is happening; and how the police problems will be solved as well as how all of this will affect city services. At his first council meeting as an elected official, new Councilman Jess Talamantes explained he would rather be “proactive than reactive.” I think this is the position city officials should take with the police department problems. Don’t wait until it all explodes into a full blown controversy, but step forward now and explain the situation to residents.
I have been reading all over the net about the Burbank Cops. It all sounds to me like we should be scared to see a Burbank cop car come anywhere near us. If one tries to suggest you I suggest you drive to Glendale and stop infront of the Glendale Police station just to make sure your safe when they get out of their cars.
This stuff is just plain out of control racism with a capitol R. It makes no sense why the mayor didn’t stop this
I agree with Danny, You just never know if a good cop or bad cop is pulling you over.
It is pretty sad. I thought this would never happen in burbank.
You know, I’m going to be a bit anxious the next time a Burbank cop pulls up next to me on the street. There will be no way to tell if it’s a good cop or a bad cop.
That’s a very good question. Why did the mayor and other city officials not do something to investigate the allegations, correct the problems, before it all reached this point.
I’m surprised that this happened in Burbank, too.
Why the mayor and top people didn’t do something about this is the right question. Top people just love to blame the lower people byt the truth is if the top people did their job the lower people wouldn’t get away with stuff like this. I think the mayor has a lot to answer for because he stood by and let people suffer. That is just wrong.
I’m sure the top officials in Burbank will be doing a lot of explaining this coming week. I look forward to hearing what they have to say on the matter.