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Outsider tapped for commission job

Former official Frutos is unsuccessful in his bid to regain a seat.

September 16, 2011|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com
  • Former city official Robert Frutos was unsuccessful in his bid to regain a seat on the Burbank Police Commission. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
Former city official Robert Frutos was unsuccessful…

The City Council this week filled the lone vacancy on the Police Commission with a candidate with extensive experience working with film and TV studios.

In doing so, the council passed over Robert Frutos — the former chairman of the commission and City Council candidate — who had reapplied after losing his seat in May.

The resignation of Commissioner Jim Etter in July left a vacancy on the seven-member commission.

Mayor Jess Talamantes, Councilman Dave Golonski and Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy voted to appoint Tom Bruehl, a former Paramount executive, to the commission on Tuesday.

In his application, Bruehl cited his management and financial experience and ability to analyze difficult situations, develop solutions and bring a “strong sense of logic and fairness to tackle problems.”

He also stated on the application that the “City Council is in need of serious and well thought out advice in tackling the present policing situation.”

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After retiring in 2009 as senior vice president of technical services at Paramount Pictures, Bruehl said he wanted a challenge in a different field.

“My time is my own and I’ve been in upper management many years and I’m used to dealing in areas of concentration [in which] I don’t have detailed information,” he said. “But I’m good at analyzing how things go together and how they operate, how to plug the holes in an operation, and that’s independent of technical knowledge.”

Councilman Gary Bric and Councilman David Gordon supported Frutos, who in May failed to garner sufficient support to have his term extended.

Frutos ran unsuccessfully for City Council against Gabel-Luddy and served on the commission for eight years, the final two of those years as chairman.

In the last two years, current and former police officers filed lawsuits against the department alleging civil rights violations, sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliatory firing. And two years ago, the FBI began investing the police department for possible civil rights violations and excessive use of force. That investigation remains ongoing.

Frutos could not be reached for comment.

Bruehl, a 25-year Burbank resident, said he was also familiar with Police Chief Scott LaChasse because they worked in the same division at Paramount when LaChasse was head of security there.

“I think he’s a good addition,” LaChasse said. “Staff will get together with him and get him up to speed on what’s going on and offer him an opportunity to see what the department is all about.”

Bruehl added that the City Council was making an effort to change and improve the department and felt the commission should reflect that effort.

“I’m certainly not an expert in policing, but I can offer, I think, an objective judgment from a fresh set of eyes,” Bruehl said.

In addressing the City Council on Tuesday, he said the Police Department was one of the most visible and critical departments in the city.

And while the council has made a serious commitment to change the department with a new police chief, Bruehl said he would like to see an update to the city’s charter to give the Police Commission more power.

His suggestions also included the need for clearer and stronger directives for the commission.

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