In the race for City Council, there are seven candidates, and we asked ten tough questions. We told the candidates they could write as much as they wanted, and we did not edit their responses in any way. We rotated the order after every question.
Today is question 9 of 10 –Police: Are you for defunding/reforming/or building up the Burbank Police Department and why?
I support BPD (Burbank Police Department) and their continued efforts to improve as a community-based, prevention oriented, model agency so that all Burbankers are safe and that each and every one of us FEELS safe and protected. I support BPD’s – commitment against bias, commitment to transparency and that all resources and reports are on their website. There is always room for improvement, but BPD has received high marks from CALEA, the OIR and their Community Survey:
The BPD is accredited by (CALEA) the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Through this accreditation, BPD voluntarily conforms to the most contemporary law enforcement practices.
Additionally, the city contracts with the (OIR) Office of Independent Review, for regular audits including: uses of force, complaints, personnel investigations, and bias.
Burbank has a City Council appointed Police Commission that regularly reviews the policies and practices of BPD. Since 2015, the Commission has worked to assure alliance with President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
BPD undertakes regular Community Surveys in English, Spanish and Armenian. The most recent is 2021 and the results are here:
I support effective police funding for best public safety outcome for all. I have been an advocate to include more civilian experts, in particular mental health responders, more 911/dispatch/988 operators, healthcare personal in jails, and staff to focus on community outreach and education.
In addition, for a safer community, our officers and civilian staff need more resources to support them and their work. I’ve successfully advocated for a second MHET van, for example, which should be deployed in the coming months. The department is also clearly in need of a more efficient and less officer-focused data entry process, as a great portion of on the clock time is spent on reporting. This takes away from what the officers are trained for, which is to protect and serve. I also am an advocate for remote technology for police representation at trials, so they don’t have to drive to LA, more training and personal development opportunities, more mental health support, and HR hiring support.
Our PD offers an excellent community program that I recommend to those looking to have an inside look at the daily life of the Police Department officers and staff. The next program should be starting in spring of 2023. https://www.burbankpd.org/community-outreach/community-academy/
I also support looking at our city as a whole, to create community systems that require less non-crisis policing (for example, better street design, mental health prevention in schools, a housing and homelessness coordination center).
I also believe that in addition to being a difficult time for the policing field in general, folks may find it less attractive to apply for our department as it’s so expensive to live here. I am looking into ways we can bring housing into onboarding packages for police, fire, teachers and BUSD staff, and city staff, so that we can attract more folks to make lateral career movements into our city, not out of it.
Since we are going to be increasing units, which means we are increasing our population we will need to build up the Burbank Police Department.
I am NOT in favor of defunding the Burbank Police Department. I AM in favor of continuing to work with the Department to continue to provide the best-in-class service for which it is known. The public safety resources of our City have long been recognized as among the best in the state. As a result, we have some of the most rapid police and fire response times in California, as well as one of the lowest crime rates. When other jurisdictions were experiencing rioting, clashes between police and the public and violence in the streets, our public safety resources were able to manage these issues without violence and without conflict. When public demonstrations occurred, the Police Department managed the process impeccably. Protestors were able to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and were able to do so without the threat of retaliation. Simultaneously, the Department maintained the peace and order throughout the community.
We must also recognize there are substantial increases in crime rates in communities throughout Southern California, and the effectiveness of our public safety resources is more important than ever. There is increased gang activity that needs to be addressed, as well as an increase in property crime. A well-funded and well-trained and community-based police force is crucial in maintaining the quality of life we have come to expect in our City.
The programs for inclusions, diversity, justice and equity that have been put into place by the current command staff of the Burbank Police Department must continue to take the highest priority. It is this foundation that has allowed Burbank to promote a style of constitutional policing that is a model for what every community should strive to create. As the level of crime skyrockets in communities that surround us, our public safety resources remain steadfastly committed to protecting and serving our community with dignity, respect and justice.
Although I understand the need for the conversations around police reform across the country, when it comes to Burbank, I do not believe in defunding our local police department, but rather in reinvesting our funds to ensure that our officers have the training, resources, and tools they need to respond to the issues and concerns of Burbank residents. There have been asks for diversity training that helps officers meet the needs of our growing ethnically diverse and multilingual communities, training and tools that help our officers meet the threats of active shooter situations in our schools, resources that help them combat street racing and traffic safety issues that have had deadly consequences for innocent young residents, and resources to meet the demands of a growing city like more 911 operator staffing.
We are lucky to have a small and nationally recognized police department and if elected I’m looking forward to working alongside Chief Albanese to advocate to our federal, state and county partners for our department’s needs and to ensure the department has the resources they need to keep our community safe.