Saturday, November 7, 2009

Burbank Leader Editorial: Police chief should resign

This photo in the Burbank Leader struck me odd as it was the day after Sgt Neil Gunn's funeral and the same week City Councilman David Gordon called for Chief Stehr to be put on adminstrative leave.

St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School principal Dr. June Rosena, left, greets Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr during Burbank Police Department Appreciation Day Mass' distribution of Communion at Burbank's St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church on Friday, November 6, 2009. (Raul Roa/Leader)

Then the same day we read in the Leader Editorial that Police Chief Tim Stehr should resign.

Is this the Twilight Zone?

Editorial: Police Chief should resign
Burbank Leader
Written by Raul Roa
Published: Last Updated Friday, November 6, 2009 11:26 PM PST

For months now, we’ve watched the Burbank Police Department continue to unravel. Each week, it seems, brings yet another soap-opera twist.

The Police Commission and Civil Service Board are exerting greater pressure at City Hall, and one City Council member has called for the police chief to be placed on leave. There are three independent investigations — two called in by the city itself — into myriad internal complaints and allegations of misconduct, and an officer has killed himself in public.

Additionally, at least 25 members of the Burbank Police Officers Assn. have called for a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Chief Tim Stehr.

We understand why. Things are not improving.

In fact, in recent weeks, they appear to be getting worse. And stuck in the middle is a frustrated citizenry wondering just what’s going on with the department charged with imposing public order. The Glendale Police Department has even had to be brought in to lend a helping hand with distraught Burbank officers and the investigation into Sgt. Neil Thomas Gunn’s public suicide.

Given all of this, it has become clear that Stehr should resign.

At this point, there is no evidence that Stehr is personally culpable — or turned a blind eye to — the rot and dysfunction within his department. But on a very real level, it does not matter. Whatever the outcome of the investigations by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, FBI or city-hired investigator, Stehr can no longer effectively lead.

In many other cities, Stehr would have been placed on administrative leave long ago, but we’re way beyond that now. Even if the Police Department manages to emerge from the investigations legally unscathed, we’d be left with a serious void of trust and assurance that the sort of structural changes that need to occur would indeed take place.

When dozens of rank-and-file police officers show up at a City Council meeting to publicly applaud a suggestion to put their chief on immediate leave — and heckle those who oppose the idea — it does not bode well for his ability to effect change.

The confluence of issues facing this city’s Police Department is too great now for measured tones and political half-steps at City Hall. The public has every right to know that our city executives and council are coming down with full force to rectify what has surely been a long-simmering problem.

It’s time for the voters of this city to start taking note of the top-down leadership, or lack thereof, that continues to allow this pot to boil.

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And now here is letter to the Burbank Leader Editor from yesterday as well:

What year is this?

Burbank, California 2009.

A police department under investigation for a systemic culture of excessive force and racism with a suicide thrown in for good measure — is this America?

A police officers association that successfully spends thousands and thousands of dollars to help install their anointed candidates into the City Council to do their bidding — is this America?

A City Council than appoints a laughingstock seven-member police commission consisting of five members who have contributed money to the election campaigns of four council members — is this America?

A city attorney who claims to only fight his cases in court, but shortly thereafter confidential papers are released to the press to sway his arguments in an ongoing case — is this America?

A city manager who asks what difference it makes what Tim [Stehr] did in the back of a police car 20 years ago when questioned about the handling of a sexual misconduct incident involving his police chief — is this America?

Or is it Germany, 1933?



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"The mission of the Burbank Police Officers' Association is to represent the law enforcement officers of the City of Burbank, to ensure and maintain professional standards for our members and to promote a partnership between the community they serve."

April 2009
Burbank Police Officers' Association
Board of Directors

Detective Mike Parrinello, President
Detective Brent Dyrness, Vice President
Sergeant Darin Ryburn, Past President
Detective Chris Racina, Secretary
Officer Derek Green, Treasurer
J.J. Puglisi, Lieutenant Representative
Travis Irving, Sergeant Representative
Adam Cornils, Officer Representative
Steve Karagiosian, Officer Representative
Jeff Lamoureaux, Officer Representative
Bob Heins, Retiree Representative

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By Burbank Municipal Code §2-1-413.

Five members appointed by Council. On 5/22/07, the Council added 2 more members. One member for a one year term and one member for a 2 year term.

Four years.

On call in the Police Services Building, 200 N. 3rd St.

Tim Stehr, Police Chief

(818) 238-3200

Police Department, 200 N. 3rd St., Burbank, CA 91502

Robert Frutos

Nathan W. Rubinfeld

Raymond G. Adams
James W. Etter
Elise M. Stearns-Niesen, Secretary
Claudia Bonis
Hagop Hergelian
Robert Frutos
Nathan W. Rubinfeld

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The Mission of the Police Commission is to ensure on behalf of the City Council that the Burbank Police Department maintains the highest levels of integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the community.

Sec. 2-1-413. Police Commission.

A. COMPOSITION OF COMMISSION: The Police Commission established by Section 705 of the Burbank City Charter shall consist of seven (7) members.

B. Meetings: The Police Commission shall meet as follows:
1. In June at the call of the Chair for the purpose of holding an election as provided in Section 2-1-408 of this code.
2. In September, December and March between the first and fifteenth day thereof at the call of the Chair for the purpose of being briefed by the Chief of Police on matters of interest to the Commission.
3. Otherwise, only at the specific request of the Council.

C. Additional Personnel: To assist the Police Commission in the performance of its duties, the Council may provide the Commission with paid personnel. Such personnel need not be included within the Civil Service System. Should the services of any regular City employee be needed, request therefor may be made by the Commission to the City Manager, and he is authorized to assign such personnel, if available.

D. Liaison Representation:
1. The Mayor shall designate a member of the Council to meet with the Police Commission but such Council member shall not be a member of the Commission.
2. The Chief of Police, or in his absence a member of his administrative staff, shall meet with the Police Commission but shall not be a member of the Commission.

E. Powers and Duties of the Commission: The Police Commission shall have the following powers and duties:
1. To initiate studies and surveys in the general field of police science and law enforcement and report its findings and recommendations to the Council;
2. To conduct hearings, investigations, or both, at the request of the Council for the purpose of ascertaining whether additional legislation is needed for the health, safety, peace and welfare of the inhabitants of the City and to make findings and recommendations to the Council;
3. To act in an advisory capacity to the Council on policy matters pertaining to the Police Department of the City;
4. To receive complaints, except those relating to traffic engineering, pertaining to the Police Department and law enforcement in general;
5. To examine books, papers, records and accounts in the Police Department, other than confidential matters under investigation.

F. False Statements: Any false statement willfully made under oath in any paper filed with the Police Commission, or in any testimony given in any proceedings before the Commission, or in any investigation conducted by or under the jurisdiction of the Commission, shall be punishable as provided by the Penal Code of the State of California. [Formerly numbered Section 2-55; renumbered by Ord. No. 3058, eff. 2/21/87; amended by Ord. No. 3724, eff. 7/30/05; 3472, 2655, 2548, 2359.]

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Time for serious change in Burbank

St. Robert’s tasteless, inappropriate, and politically motivated PR “mass” for BPD hierarchy

Where is the Burbank Police Commission

Comments from Topix

Official Press Release for Neil Gunn on City's website

Beyond the Badge Jan 2008

Beyond the Badge June 2008

Beyond the Badge Jan 2009

November 10, 2009 UPDATE

Received a few pages from the June 2009 Beyond the Badge magazine since it's not online yet. The last page honors Neil Gunn, Jr.

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November 20, 2009 UPDATE

This came out today - a bit over the top considering the BPD is under great scrutiny of late:

Thanking those who protect and serve

Friday, November 20, 2009
The Titdings Online
By Paula Doyle

Led by a student color guard, St. Robert Bellarmine schoolchildren filed with particular decorum past a score of police officers and sheriffs waiting to join the processional into the parish church for a special First Friday Mass Nov. 6 honoring members of law enforcement.

"I can safely say this is probably the safest Mass in the Archdiocese," joked Father John Collins, pastor, in his welcoming remarks to members of the Burbank and Los Angeles Police Departments, the Sheriff's Department and Burbank Mayor Gary Bric.

"This morning, it's our opportunity on behalf of the entire school to say thank you to each and every one of you for the sacrifices that you make in the service of this community and the other communities you serve in," declared Father Collins.

During the petitions read by student representatives, a special prayer was said for the law enforcement officers: "That they continue their hard work of protecting us day by day with strength and courage from their heavenly Father."

Prayers were also recited for all service men and women, retired servicemen and veterans expressing appreciation for "their tireless efforts in protecting the land that we love." Following the liturgy, the kindergartners stood on the altar steps and serenaded the special guests with the patriotic song, "Proud to Be An American."

"There are many students in our audience today who want to grow up to be just like you," Dr. June Rosena, principal, told the officers. "That's why it's so important that you continue to be the role models that you are: wonderful, caring human beings.

"You do your job because it is right, and that's what we tell our children, 'You do what is right because it is right.' That is our mission…We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all of you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

As congregants exited through the blue-and-white-balloon-decorated church doors on their way across the street to special presentations in the school courtyard, Father Collins told The Tidings he considered the first-time event to be very successful.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for us to build community and to gather together and get to know each other --- recognize each other's face and work together for a common good --- because we have a lot in common," said the pastor.

"So often," he added, "we don't quite know each other. We're all functioning in the community trying to do similar things, yet we're kind of like ships passing in the night, so this was a great community-building event for us."

Ron Drewes, school parent of second and third graders sitting along with their classmates in the sunny courtyard, stood near the flag pole flanked by two rows of seated officers, as he read a special prayer to St. Michael, patron saint of those in law enforcement.

"Look with kindly and professional eyes on your earthly law enforcement…Make them the friend of children and law-abiding citizens," prayed Drewes, who thanked the officers for their "dedicated service in protecting us with responsibility and care."

Student representatives from each class presented hand-made cards to Burbank police officials standing next to principal Rosena. "You do have people who understand and support you," she said. "We'd like to thank you for the heroes that you are."

"I thought it was really good to have some of the youth of the community show their support for the police department, because, as the principal said, often there are so many times where we don't get that support," said Burbank Police Officer J.J. Puglisi. Fellow Burbank Police Officer Marsha Laufer described the event as "very humbling, uplifting and encouraging to be thought of in a good way."

Los Angeles Police Department Detective Michael Valdes, a St. Robert Bellarmine parishioner attending the event with his wife, Sofia, commented the event was "the nicest thing in my 19 years [in police work] that I've every experienced anywhere. It was a wonderful gesture. To be recognized and appreciated by my parish, it's quite special."

Patricia Norris, attending the event with her husband Chuck, both Sheriff's Department retirees, said she never attended anything similar to the school's celebration in her entire career of more than 36 years.

"When the kindergartners were singing, I was moved to tears," said Patricia. "What they did today was very thoughtful, and I know everyone here appreciates it."

LAPD Officer Ben Fernandes, father of a kindergartner seated next to the two retired sheriffs, agreed that, in his 12 years as a policeman, "it was one of the nicest events I've ever attended."

"I think the service was wonderful," said Lourdes Malam, school parent. "The children were so excited about it. They were making posters and [preparing] songs."

Maria Casillas, parent of three schoolchildren in eighth, fourth and first grades, said the school's efforts --- including the Character Counts program based on the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship) --- are making a difference.

"As the police make a difference in our community, this school tries to make a difference by showing the officers respect and appreciation for their work," said Casillas.

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Original Post:
Burbank Police Sergeant in FBI Probe Killed


  1. Hi: My name is James Etter. One of the recent appointed (1-yr ago) to the Police Commission. Lots of interesting things going on at the Commission.

    Before I travel further into my comments, I will preface it all by saying, this is written as a citizen of Burbank, not any official capacity of the Police Commission.

    When I came on board (under Chief Stehr) the commission was relative inactive. Meeting only 4-times a year, with little on the agenda. I think most were political appointees and liked the title.

    In my first year, I have been told that "Town Hall Meetings" violated the Brown Act. We can not hold Executive Sessions (I wanted to discuss the Chief) And that We could not have a city phone number, email or address to interface with the public. We continues to be strapped and tied with any official point of contact (one on one) with citizens of the community, except I regularly put on my Police Commission shirt and go out amongst the community to discuss issues. Starbuck's, Bob's big Boy and the Media Center are my beat! I also knock on doors and held a National Night Out at my home in August. I really want to hear what the community is saying and thinking about our PD.

    I have felt lied to, held back and disappointed in the Commission until recent. The addition of Mr. Ray Adams and the truth by setting up a Community Forum (which I am not all that excited about the format)and the note of recent that Executive Session is possible, and I'm still being told not to wear my Commission Shirt and greet the public.

    We still do not have any email or phone that I can hand to the public. All the City Council Does, and in other communities, Boards and Commissions have them as a tool to fact find and make reports to the Commission Meetings and City Council. God help us! Giving me an email would really violate the trust of the city; however, I have been trusted enough to be appointed into a position where Big Brother sequesters me.

    I'm older than any member on the City Council. I'll match year for year my higher education. I'm the only one who is a decorated combat military veteran. (lots of growing up) And I believe, I do not need the hand holding, in my mission to see what you, the citizens of Burbank, have to say about issues and our PD.

    I am very well pleased with the progress made on the Commission this past year; I like the new Interim Police Chief. He is very open and just what we need presently. Slow progress is being made, and I feel much better about the future, if the City Council will accept change and more freedom for the Commission to respond to the public, without fear of being removed in a snap. One member of the City Council has been trying to do that since my appointment.

    I openly will meet with anyone to discuss the PD and take your comments. Unfortunately the City has seen that I have little power to communicate at large, lest I hand out my home phone. Go to the City Web Site and search for a couple of hours and you may find the Commission email, however; it will not permit you to confidentially speak with any of the commissioners. Big Brother is watching every word, and your quarry will not go directly to any one commissioner. You're best bet is to hang out at Starbuck's or Bob's. Jim Etter

  2. Thanks James for the comment. There seems to be lots of frustration for Burbankers who simply want honest government.

    Did you see this - written about 1 yr ago:


About Me

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.