Consultant Michael Gennaco will continue working with the city and serving as an independent monitor of the Burbank Police Department, now that the City Council extended his contract another three years.
Gennaco, principal of OIR Group, was formerly the chief attorney of the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review from 2001 to 2014, his LinkedIn profile shows. The Office of Independent Review, or OIR, provided civilian oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Gennaco also has experience working with several law enforcement agencies.
Since January 2012, Gennaco has been tasked with examining certain types of police incidents and how police handled them, including uses of deadly force and in-custody deaths, biased policing complaints and a random 1/4 selection of all use of force reviews. The findings are eventually made public.
On Thursday evening the council unanimously approved the contract extension. The topic had been discussed at a previous meeting.
Police Chief Scott LaChasse said in an email before the meeting that police are doing well in areas reviewed by Gennaco, but can always do better.
“We are not perfect,” LaChasse said. “We have made strides in several areas, but we want to maintain our status. Review by a third party helps us stay at the top of our game.”
LaChasse also said there is a small segment of the population who don’t trust the police department.
He added: “Having a third party independent review helps maintain a level of transparency, preserving the confidence most people do have in our organization, but also serves to increases the level of trust we have with those in the community who may be skeptical.”
In 2011, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation was still looking into allegations of officer misconduct and use of force at the department, the city was eyeing independent consultants in the hopes of bringing more transparency to how police operate.
At the time, Gennaco said that the first report on certain police cases would provide a wealth of information about the challenges the department has faced over the auditing period. It presents an opportunity Burbank has never had, he said.
Most of the information about the controversy has come from the media, and the reports will provide a significant step in transparency, Gennaco added.
The controversy Gennaco referred to included lawsuits by former and current officers that were making their way through the court system, alleging retaliatory firing and discrimination, among other complaints. They painted a portrait of a department that was hostile to women and minorities.
The cost of Gennaco’s consulting services remains the same as his initial contract, at $60,000 per year, for a total of $180,000.