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Editorials:

Commission right to be proactive

July 18, 2009

The decision by the Police Commission on Wednesday to meet monthly, instead of quarterly, is the kind of response to the reality of their environment that deserves commendation. Now the increased work schedule needs to be put to good use.

All around them there are glaring examples of how their lack of engagement has allowed, or at least contributed to, the lack of public accountability at the Police Department. Certainly, the City Council has failed to pick up the slack.

The department faces a growing discrimination lawsuit filed by rank-and-file officers and mid-level command staff, and there are indications there was a concerted effort to keep the true scale of the problem away from the glare of the City Council, and certainly the public. In fact, no sooner had the commission voted to increase the number of meetings, then yet another Burbank Police officer joined the lawsuit, claiming a culture of sanctioned racial and ethnic discrimination throughout the department.

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate and review internal and public complaints filed against Burbank police and command staff, and all the while, the ranks continue to close.

Clearly, the City Council has, for whatever reason, declined to take an early, proactive look into what’s going on, at least in public. It now befalls upon the Police Commission to assert itself in this political void.

Commissioners are to be commended for taking the first brave step in voting to increase their workload. They’ve shaken off the mud of their own recent internal politics and appear poised to move forward. Surely, they could have ignored the police allegations and investigations with the hopes that they’d quietly work themselves to an end in the court system, but they didn’t.

No let’s see the next step, which may arguably be an even bolder one — demand a public accounting.


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