An Open Letter from Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse

By On June 5, 2020

To the Members of Our Community:

The Burbank Police Department shares in the community’s devastation and anger over the events leading to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Foremost, we condemn all unlawful uses of force and violations of due process. Sadly, actions like this reflect poorly on the entire law enforcement profession. I have received many inquiries in the past few days regarding the policies and practices of the Burbank Police Department with respect to preventing such a tragic incident in our own community.

The members of the Burbank Police Department are a racially and ethnically diverse group of people reflective of the community we serve. In fact, the Department’s pursuit of a diversified police force has resulted in greater diversity within the Department than in the demographic makeup of the Community of Burbank itself. Those who serve are part of the very fabric that makes up our tight-knit community. This philosophy makes a difference—we view our mission of safety as a shared responsibility with those we serve versus a philosophy of policing the community. As such, the Burbank Police Department prides itself on providing equal protection under the law and engages in constitutional-based policing practices.

Over the past decade, the Burbank Police Department has embraced progressive law enforcement reform. Along with this, the Department recognizes that reforms cannot be made in a vacuum and that insight from outside the agency is a critical component to moving forward successfully.

The Department is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). This outside organization ensures that the Department conforms to the most contemporary practices in law enforcement. In addition, the City contracts with an outside oversight body, the Office of Independent Review (OIR), which regularly audits use of force, citizen complaints, and personnel investigations for a number of factors, including bias-based policing. The City also has its own Police Commission, which regularly reviews the policies and practices of the Department and makes recommendations to City Council. The Commission has taken great steps to ensure the Department has implemented change in line with President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Overall, I am confident that the Police Department has made significant changes and continues to seek areas of improvement. The list of reforms is extensive; however, here are some significant examples:

  • Extensive training for personnel including bias-based policing, use of force de-escalation techniques, and managing individuals in crisis
  • Required utilization of Body Worn Camera and In-Car Camera systems
  • Use of force continuum that emphasizes de-escalation and warnings
  • Use of carotid restraint is restricted to those situations justifying deadly force
  • Mandated intervention and reporting by all employees who witness excessive force
  • Comprehensive documentation of all use of force incidents that are reviewed internally and externally
  • Early intervention system to identify employees who require intervention efforts
  • Documentation of all displays of a Taser or firearm
  • Accessible citizen complaint process with thorough investigation of complaints
  • Dedicated Mental Health Evaluation Team to assist individuals in crisis
  • Policies restricting shooting at or from a moving vehicle

Trust is the most important factor in achieving our mission. I hope that the information provided has assisted in building trust for those in our community who are experiencing distrust in light of recent events. There is a wealth of additional information available on our website including the entire Burbank Police Department policy manual (www.BurbankPD.org). They are among the most contemporary in the nation, as our Community deserves nothing less than the best.

Sincerely,

Scott LaChasse
Chief of Police