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City leaning toward police auditor

The move would keep the Police Commission in its largely advisory role.

November 27, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

City officials this week veered toward hiring a police auditor who would report internal issues to the Police Commission — sidestepping a recommendation from two high-priced consultants in favor of a proposal that would keep more of the existing players in place.

Seven police commissioners joined the City Council on Tuesday in asking officials to return with several options, including two that received the majority of the discussion: one that would create an Office of Independent Investigation and Review, and one that would create the auditor, much like an inspector general.

Going for the auditor would mean the Police Commission, which has been pushing for more oversight power, would remain in its largely advisory role. The inspector would report directly to the city manager, whose decision to hire or fire would have to be approved by the City Council.

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"An inspector general would have the highest and widest breadth and function, and would serve at the pleasure of the council," Councilman David Gordon said.

Although he acknowledged some reporting may need to be done in closed session for confidential personnel and legal matters, an independent inspector would allay his concerns about hearing information secondhand.

"What I don't want to see happening is a filtration or tainting of the information," Gordon said. "I don't want it to be modified or rephrased before it is presented to us."

In a report by former U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang and police expert Merrick Bobb — both brought on for tens of thousands of dollars to help guide police reforms within the department following probes into officer misconduct — it was recommended that the city establish an Office of Independent Investigation and Review.

The recommendation was made public only after the City Council voted in closed session to make public a single page from the pair's contentious strategic plan document, known as the "Merrick Bobb Report," which reportedly contains an in-depth analysis of past practices of the Burbank Police Department.

All but the one page released publicly on Tuesday contains confidential information, according to the city attorney's Office.

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