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Leader Editorial: LaChasse in charge

April 14, 2013

Cleaning up a mess left behind by predecessor is difficult under any circumstances, but it's especially challenging when members of the department you're overseeing don't always have your back.

The city's new police chief, Scott LaChasse, held in limbo as interim chief for the past three years, has performed admirably, despite naysayers within the Burbank Police Officers Assn.

LaChasse, who previously enjoyed a 30-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department, was recruited in January 2010 to help stabilize the Burbank force, disgraced by allegations of excessive force, discrimination and sexual harassment. The department's previous leader, Tim Stehr, retired under a cloud of civil rights investigations and officer-involved lawsuits, leaving a dysfunctional organization behind.

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Initiating reforms and bringing in new leadership, LaChasse has noticeably improved the culture at his department with "interim" in front of his title. So we agree with the decision of interim City Manager Ken Pulskamp to appoint him to the post on a permanent basis, although we can't help but wonder about the timing: Pulskamp made the announcement of LaChasse's appointment within hours of the polls closing on Tuesday's election. Was it a decision that really had to be delayed until the voters determined the makeup of the Burbank City Council? If so, why?

In any case, we see giving LaChasse the job on a permanent basis as a good move. We hope we can take Mark Armendariz, president of the Burbank Police Officers' Assn., at his word when he tells us, "We wish Chief LaChasse well."

We do, too. Now that the force is on notice that there is no question about who will be in charge, LaChasse can start in earnest strengthening relationships with the rank and file, bettering the department, and hopefully seeing the federal investigation that's still underway to its end.

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