The Burbank City Council held a virtual joint meeting with the Police Commission on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021. The meeting pushed past midnight putting the council members in overtime, and the majority of the meeting was spent in discussion of the recommendations to council from the Police Commission as well as callers in the public comment portion of the joint meeting.
The meeting opened with the adjournment of Lynn Brown who was a large advocate for the equestrian area. Mayor Frutos then made an announcement that the City Clerk’s office is accepting applications for a vacancy on the Board of Library Trustees for the unexpired term ending July 31, 2022. The deadline to submit an application is Wednesday, February 24th at 5:00pm. The second announcement was on the February 17th online community workshop hosted by the Community Development Department. The workshop is in regard to state required updates to city development standards for support of housing, transitional housing and emergency shelters. For more information visit the city’s calendar at www.burbankca.gov.
A proclamation declaring February 2021 as Black History Month in the City of Burbank was presented and accepted by Terry Walker, the director of Neuroscience at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Another proclamation was made declaring February 2021 as National Children’s Dental Health Month in the City of Burbank and was accepted by Dale Gorman, the executive director of Kids Community Dental Clinic.
The joint meeting with the Burbank Police Commission followed and a report was presented by Chair Nidal Kobaissi, after getting public input on June 30th, 2020 regarding topics pertaining to the police department. The commission presented six recommendations to council which were discussed by Kobaissi and additional input was provided by Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse. After over an hour and forty minutes of public callers regarding the recommendations the council took the community input and continued to discuss and ask further questions. To listen to all of the public comments regarding the Police Commission portion, you can forward to 3:11 in the meeting’s video which can be found on the City of Burbank website.
The first recommendation was to keep the current School Resource Officer program and, if possible, consider expansion of the program. Chief LaChasse expressed that the police department has a proud partnership with the Burbank School District and has a meeting each year regarding traffic, emergency response, contingency plans, and more. He also explained that the SROs main responsibilities are not to make arrests but to provide mentorship. Due to budget cuts, SROs were reduced to only two. These officers also follow up on child abuse cases and in 2020 they followed up on 211 cases. Councilmember Schultz recommended having a joint meeting that would also include BUSD since they are stakeholders in this issue. Councilmember Anthony also agreed and requested that more data be presented on this topic. Finally, Councilmember Schultz made a motion to note and file the recommendation and to set up the joint meeting in which all of the council members unanimously approved.
The second recommendation was to continue the Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET) program and, if possible, consider expansion of the program. The Department of Mental Health provided a full time Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works alongside the MHET officer on mental health calls and the program has been successful. Councilmember Anthony requested to look into alternative models that could expand the mental health team without needing police response. Councilmember Schultz asked for more data on what it would cost to expand the MHET and for a separate report on what Los Angeles and Glendale are doing. As of right now the program is limited to only 40 hours a week so majority of the time an officer does not have assistance, and with the pandemic, there may be more need for mental health services. Councilmember Schultz made a motion to note and file the recommendation and to get a report back from the City Manager’s office on the cost of the expansion as well as referring back to the Police Commission on alternatives and other pilot programs. The council voted unanimously in favor.
Recommendation three addressed the establishment of a Law Enforcement Recognition Day in the City of Burbank. It was brought up that there is already a Law Enforcement Day on January 9th nationally and there was a unanimous vote to note and file the recommendation.
Recommendation four asked to expeditiously fund and support the necessary technology to collect data that will be required for reporting under the Racial Identity and Profiling Act (RIPA) in 2023 and to collect the data as soon as possible. All five councilmembers were in support of this recommendation and there was a unanimous vote to note and file it.
The fifth recommendation addressed that the Burbank Police Commission should appoint the best qualified person(s) for the commission regardless of any consideration of their ethnicity, color, gender, profession, or any other factor that might exclude people from serving. Chief LaChasse told council that there needs to be a change in the way selections are made, and recommended creating a precise job description and vetting process for individuals to go through. Councilmember Anthony brought up that the wording in the recommendation sounded exclusive and that it needed to be rewritten and Councilmember Springer shared an updated verbiage to allow the recommendation to sound more inclusive. Councilmember Schultz moved to note and file the recommendation with the changes presented by Councilmember Springer and to also direct staff to come back to the municipal code wording as well. It was unanimously voted and approved.
The final recommendation asked Council to make a determination regarding the size of the Police Commission. The commission originally was at seven members and then dropped to five per City Council request due to the commission struggling to make quorum. Mayor Frutos recommended having a vetting process before deciding to increase the numbers back up to seven which would allow for five positions to be available in July of 2021. A unanimous vote was made to note and file the recommendation.
Following the joint meeting the Council unanimously voted to approve the Consent Calendar presented by the City Clerk which consisted of three items including the approval of the previous meeting’s minutes. The second item was the approval of a comment letter for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering’s Draft Environmental Impact Report of the proposed Los Angeles Zoo Vision Plan and directed staff to submit the letter to the Bureau of Engineering. Mayor Frutos asked to add into the letter that signage be placed to identify safety factors, per public requests, in which horses in the equestrian area and trails could be spooked by construction sounds. The third item approved was the acceptance of a donation of $7,877 from the Syrian Community of Burbank and to amend the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget by appropriating these monies to further fund the Supplemental Nutrition Program and the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment.
Finally, the City Council appointed Jason Lewis and Michael Neckerman into the two open positions on the Transportation Commission. The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Tuesday, February 22nd.