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Police commissioner under fire

Burbank resident says Jim Etter threatened him during public meeting.

December 11, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

A police commissioner who said during a meeting that a public speaker should be "slapped around a bit" will have to defend his statements to the Burbank City Council.

The comments came from Police Commissioner Jim Etter during the final public-comment period at a joint meeting with the City Council on Nov. 23 and were directed to Burbank resident Brett Loutensock, who challenged the commissioner's character with accusations of perjury and injecting himself into police situations in the field.

Etter refuted Loutensock's statements and said he has never picked a fight with a police officer or appeared in court.

"He's dead wrong on what he's telling the council and public, and he should be admonished for that or slapped around a little bit," Etter said at the meeting. "He's just not telling the truth."

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On Tuesday, Loutensock played a video of the exchange at the City Council meeting before demanding Etter be removed from the Police Commission.

"His actions rise way beyond the level of censure or vote of no confidence," Loutensock said.

Instead, the City Council voted to schedule some face time with Etter.

As of Friday afternoon, Etter said he had not been given notice to appear at City Hall.

Although Loutensock does not plan to press criminal charges against Etter despite referring to his words as a "public threat," he does plan to see this through the council.

In an interview, Etter claimed that Loutensock was being used as a pawn in an old family feud with Councilman Dave Golonski, who he said wants him off the commission.

"I didn't say that I was going to hit him," Etter said. "If he thinks I did, just don't come to my house."

Regardless of how the comments are interpreted, Golonski said Etter's statements were "particularly egregious."

"In my opinion, making a statement that someone should be slapped around for comments at a public meeting is against everything we're working for in the Police Department," he said.

Etter has been asked not to display his city business cards in his car windshield or wear his police commission shirt outside of sanctioned functions.

He defended those practices as creating opportunities to speak with the public about what they think of the Police Department and doesn't believe he has done anything wrong.

"I will meet and have a cup of coffee with Golonski or Loutensock to discuss any issues they have with me," Etter said. "And I promise not to bring any 2-by-4s to hit him with."

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