Letter to the Editor:
I try to avoid learning life lessons the hard way, but in the case of auto insurance, I clearly was behind the times.
I was recently involved in a car accident…my first in nearly 20 years and the other driver was found to be at fault.
The accident piqued my curiosity about uninsured and unlicensed drivers, so I checked the Burbank Police Department records and discovered some alarming information.
The following are the citation statistics for Burbank covering the period of 1/1/2019 – 7/16/2021:
§ 16028 No Evidence of Insurance: 3,196
§ 12500 Unlicensed Driver: 496
§ 12951 Not In Possession of License: 250
§ 14601 Suspended License: 165
I would presume that for every traffic stop and subsequent citation, the number of actual violations is many times more because only a small fraction of people driving without insurance or a license are pulled over.
My discovery of this information led me to other concerns relating to police protection in our city.
I believe that Burbank needs sharp Police Commissioners who will provide level-headed guidance and recommend policy to stay tough on important issues such as uninsured and unlicensed drivers. The “defund the police” narrative is quite scary to me considering how that has turned out in other cities. Not so good.
Our City cannot be run by people who govern with visceral fear.
The City Council expanded the number of Police Commissioners to seven and on July 13, 2021, the Councilmembers voted to appoint Commissioners from a pool of 27 applicants.
Five of the Police Commission applicants have criminal records and I forwarded those records to the City Council prior to their vote to appoint the new Commissioners. Despite the report, Councilman Jess Talamantes and Councilwoman Sharon Springer voted to appoint one of the individuals who had been charged with alleged domestic violence (PC 415(2)), battery (PC 242) and disturbing the peace (PC 415(2)). Fortunately, the other Council members did not vote for these individuals. I would ask why two Council members would vote to appoint Commissioners with criminal backgrounds. The City confirmed that the criminal records were received before the vote was taken. We all make mistakes in life, however Burbankers deserve the absolute best people on Boards and Commissions. Other applicants had been arrested for alleged lewd conduct, petty theft and solicitation of prostitution. Anyone can go to the courthouse and confirm these facts, however the City Council decided not to ask any person applying for a Board or Commission position about criminal or financial problems in their background.
When I asked, I was told the City did not conduct background checks on applicants for the Police Commission.
And the Council did not perform due diligence in their screening and interviewing process. Brian Cutler, a lifetime Burbanker, a war veteran and Magnolia Park small business owner applied for the Burbank Police Commission and only two of the five City Council members contacted him for an interview. This raises questions.
I read that the City is actively working to expand residential housing construction projects in Burbank and that the City’s population is expected to grow to as many as 145,000 residents from the current 103,000 living here today. I am not following the logic of this but in any case, we will need a strong, well-funded police department to ensure we are safe.
One of the biggest drivers of property crime in Burbank is the proliferation of meth addicts. In my volunteer work with the homeless, I have discovered that the vast majority of homeless individuals have an addiction component as a causation for their homelessness.
Christopher Matthew Spencer