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Review board in Burbank focuses on police strengths

But group suggests further officer training could help in areas like racial profiling.

November 13, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com
  • Burbank Police Officers stand down following a search for burglary suspects on Irving Dr. on Tuesday, August 20, 2013. An audit reviewed 13 use-of-force cases, eight internal affairs investigations and three car chases.
Burbank Police Officers stand down following a search… (Photo by Ross A.…)

A report evaluating the internal policies and investigations of the Burbank Police Department praised the department's efforts to strengthen and standardize policies, but also pointed out areas where officers could benefit from additional training.

Compiled by the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, the report is the second of its kind since the city hired the agency for continued oversight in the face of allegations of officer misconduct, excessive force and racial discrimination.

The audit — which evaluated 13 use-of-force cases, eight internal affairs investigations and three car chases — comes at a time when a number of new protocols have been established within the department, including a recent policy requiring uniform officers to record all their contacts with the public.

The report called the policy — which encourages supervisors to review recordings, and requires officers, if an interaction wasn't recorded, to explain why — “robust,” but cautioned the department not to disregard nonverbal or unrecorded evidence, and warned of technological challenges.

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In one case reviewed that included an allegation of racial profiling, the officer said he forgot to record the encounter. In another case involving the temporary detention of a pedestrian, the officer only captured the end of the interaction.

Several cases evaluated by the board contained racial undercurrents, which the report said deserved a closer look by the department. The report recommended that when a citizen accuses an officer of racial profiling, the officer call a sergeant to the scene to objectively assess the situation.

Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse was pleased with the insight provided in the report.

“What you find in this business, you don't just issue orders and expect total and complete compliance the next day — that's because there's a lot of training that needs to be done,” LaChasse said.

The oversight board also reported stronger internal reviews of use-of-force cases, which it attributed to the standardization of how incidents are evaluated, which includes reaching out to officers about the review's outcome.

“The completeness of the review process is something we espouse,” said Stephen Connolly, a member of the review board.

The 17 recommendations made in the report include creating protocols so that investigators don't rely solely on officer recordings, and providing additional training to handle the racial profiling accusations as well as how to effectively interact with the mentally ill.

Claudio Losacco, president of the Burbank Police Officers Assn., said the report provides “very small snapshots” of a year of quality police work.

The report, he added, “does not reveal any significant issues on the part of our members and only validates that we are providing the city of Burbank with outstanding police services day in and day out.”

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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