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Rules change for police board

After recent incident, commission applicants must now answer three questions about their criminal history.

June 27, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — One week after deposing a sitting police commissioner over revelations that he is on unsupervised probation through June 2010 for a drunk driving offense, the City Council on Tuesday voted to require applicants for the commission to disclose any criminal history.

The council also directed the city attorney’s office to keep the answers confidential, even though they would be used as part of the public appointment process.

The moves come on the heels of a June 16 vote to remove newly appointed Police Commissioner John Brady after City Atty. Dennis Barlow last month disclosed that the civil rights activist and president of the Burbank Human Relations Council is on summary probation for driving under the influence of alcohol.

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The council voted 4 to 1 to require prospective police commissioners to answer three questions relating to their backgrounds: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” “Have you ever been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude?” and “Are you presently on court-ordered probation or parole?”

Each question affords applicants the opportunity to detail the date of the conviction as well as the circumstance. Although police commissioners serve at the pleasure of the council, applicants for the commission had not been required to disclose prior convictions, nor were they required to submit to a background check.

“This doesn’t necessarily exclude you from getting appointed,” Vice Mayor Anja Reinke said. “It’s just that way the council has full information about the particular candidate. I think it helps protect the city against any accusations from the public or anybody if there happens to be some kind of issue.”

The disclosure requirements may also be extended to the Park, Recreation and Community Services Board and the Planning Board.

Information about Brady’s drunk-driving conviction was provided to the council in a confidential memo from Barlow after Police Chief Tim Stehr said he learned of the arrest from police officers.

Despite objections from Councilman David Gordon, his colleagues elected to keep the memo private.

“Unfortunately, in the past weeks there has been some human impact on this whole thing concerning the Police Commission,” Gordon said. “I can tell you that for an individual, or other individuals who are put through this, it was particularly and very extensively painful.”

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