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Commission to host forum

Community meeting in August will address a number of police issues.

June 19, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — The Burbank Police Commission, which for months struggled to find its footing amid multiple department probes and an officer's public suicide, has agreed to host a community forum in August.

Chairman Robert Frutos, who was reappointed for a second year, predicted the Aug. 18 forum would be "the chief's time to shine."

A longtime officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, Frutos has spent years as a community relations liaison, organizing various appearances by LAPD chiefs.


In that time, LAPD has made great strides in reaching out to residents, Frutos said. Commissioners Ray Adams said he and Commissioner Elise Stearns-Niesen have reached out to their counterparts in other cities, visiting round tables in Pasadena after an officer-involved shooting divided the community and established an adversarial relationship with police officers.

The pair have begun the process of reaching out to organizations for questions they might have about the department morass, as well as impacts on levels of service, crime trends and the types of programs current offered.

Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved hosting the forum, despite worries that attendance could be hampered by late-summer vacations.

Mayor Anja Reinke, a liaison to the commission, said the forum would be promoted throughout the summer and at National Night Out, the annual crime and drug prevention event.

"I think the vision is that this is just the first meeting and we're going to see how it goes and what kind of response we get," Reinke said. "By the time you put a meeting off until later in the year it could almost be your second meeting."

Police Chief Scott LaChasse has agreed to update the community on the status of the Police Department, followed by a general discussion incorporating concerns and comments from the public.

Stearns-Niesen, who helped secure monthly meetings for the commission inside City Council Chambers, floated the possibility of hosting another forum months down the road, possibly centered on "hot topics" raised by the public and commission.

The forum comes as city officials continue working to determine a suitable level of citizen oversight for a department facing a stack of civil lawsuits and probes into misconduct.

On Wednesday, commissioners addressed the minefield that is workers' compensation, hearing from a veteran officer and union representative about their months-long struggles to secure proper medical attention.

The chief, a police captain and the union all pledged to inform officers of their rights, including the ability to see their own physician.

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