Following Scott LaChasse’s July 6 retirement from the Burbank Police Department, Mike Albanese has begun to preserve a community-focused organization as he steps into the position of interim Chief of Police.
Albanese was officially sworn in as Burbank’s interim Police Chief on Tuesday, July 13, at a Burbank City Council meeting. As he is just passing two weeks into the role, Albanese is currently involved in meetings with groups both within the department and throughout the City.
Gatherings with external organizations have included speaking with personnel from Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center and the Burbank Unified School District School Board, and attending events provided by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. While appearing at the latter functions grants positive promotional opportunities, these collaborations primarily fulfill Albanese’s objective of considering public input while leading the BPD.
“Any opportunity to engage the community is an opportunity to… solicit feedback as far as how we’re doing, what’s working, what’s not working so that we can always move to be better,” Albanese said.
Internally, meetings with BPD Lieutenants and the BPD Records Bureau are imperative as the department is replacing dated equipment and undergoing an extensive software system update. Throughout the system update integration, BPD officers will be trained on utilizing complex, legislatively mandated software additions. This prep work will ensure accuracy in uploading critical department data for the State of California and FBI crime statistics.
“That’s going to be a big journey,” Albanese said of the new software implementation. “It requires patience as far as onboarding those systems…That’s consuming quite a bit of our time right now.”
Expansion of the Burbank Mental Health Evaluation Team, a program that Albanese was instrumental in founding, is another top item on his present agenda. Most recently, the BPD and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health have been collaborating to secure the acquisition of a new vehicle which will aid the BMHET in transporting individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or episode.
Albanese, a Los Angeles native, has a deep family history of law enforcement involvement. His grandfather was employed by the LAPD in the early 1920s and worked numerous notable homicide cases, and his great uncle also served the department. Learning of their collective experiences on duty led to an early fascination for young Albanese.
“I grew up hearing law enforcement stories…[and] I was just mesmerized,” Albanese said. “My grandfather and I were very close and I wanted to be like him.”
Throughout his 37 years with the LAPD, Albanese developed an interest in managing and resolving crises, which led to him serving as Officer In Charge of the department’s SWAT team, as well as Cadre Leader of the Crisis Negotiation Team. He finished his role at LAPD in 2008 before being recruited by LaChasse to join the BPD as Police Captain in 2010. Albanese was next promoted to Deputy Chief in 2015.
Following Judge Frank M. Tavelman performing his swearing-in ceremony, Albanese introduced his family members who were present at this event, including his wife of 47 years and three children. One of his daughters, Elisabeth Albanese, has also continued the family legacy of law enforcement involvement as the first female Captain of the Beverly Hills Police Department.
“She is a… very driven, bright young woman,” Albanese said of Elisabeth Albanese. “We are enormously proud of her, [and] we’re proud of all three [children].”
LaChasse and Albanese first met while working with the LAPD in 1971, and have together prioritized respect, integrity, and excellence as the foundation of BPD values. In-car and body-worn cameras, certification from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Burbank Mental Health Evaluation Team are a few essential additions which have been made to the department under their direction.
While Albanese says it’s “bittersweet” to see LaChasse retire after years of working alongside each other, he acknowledges the evolution of the BPD will eventually lend itself to new leadership. When that next stage is reached, Albanese hopes the organization’s focus will remain on providing for the community.
“For all of us, there’s going to come a time… to step aside and let other folks drive the ship,” Albanese said. “I don’t know how long I’ll be in this position, but I’m looking forward to handing it off to someone else to give them an opportunity…I want the organization to grow to be the most contemporary police department in the region, and I want the energy to serve to be ever-present.”
Some upcoming events demonstrating this purpose of service are National Night Out, to take place at Johnny Carson Park on Tuesday, August 3, and Coffee with a Cop, which will return for the first time since COVID-19 on Saturday, July 31. Furthermore, the BPD Community Academy, which offers informative law enforcement presentations to participants over the course of nine weeks, is tentatively planned to return this fall.
As interim Chief of Police, Albanese says he will continue to welcome valuable feedback from local affiliates and all divisions of the BPD. These exchanges aim to further build the foundation which upholds the efficacy and credibility of a respected police department.
“Primarily [my goal] is making sure that I’m connected with the folks that I work with,” Albanese said. “That’s essential so that there’s an ongoing dialogue… certainly that’s my number one priority.”