The Sustainable Burbank Commission voted this week to encourage the City Council to look at a number of potential ordinances which advocates say would reduce local carbon emissions.
The municipal commission has worked with representatives from Sunrise Movement Los Angeles — the local chapter of an organization that seeks to stop climate change — on ideas for improving the city’s sustainability. Proponents plan to recommend their ideas, collectively called a “Green New Deal” like similar federal-level proposals, to the City Council during its next meeting on Tuesday.
On the same night the Burbank City Council designated February as Black History Month for the first time, the panel heard a commission’s recommendation to establish an annual appreciation day for local police officers. The council quickly moved over the recommendation without adopting it, but some of the nearly 40 people who called during the public comment period for Tuesday’s meeting were frustrated it was included at all, pointing to Black History Month’s significance. It was one of several grievances expressed that night regarding the Police Commission’s recommendations. The meeting, which stretched past midnight — forcing officials to push the planned discussion of homelessness to a future date — served as the culmination of months of work by the Police Commission to generate recommendations for the Burbank Police Department, a task the City Council charged the advisory body with following the death of George Floyd and widespread calls for police reform. But when those recommendations were presented to the council, many residents took issue with their content, particularly with the advice that the school resource officer program — which assigns two specialized officers to the local school district — be retained or expanded. Several callers said they were concerned that the program intimidates and criminalizes students, particularly students of color, with some alumni saying they or their children had bad experiences with the officers.
While protesters marched through the streets of Burbank this week with cries of “Defund the police” and “This is what democracy looks like,” the City Council heard from residents concerned about their local Police Department.
The virtual council meeting took place as protesters assembled in front of the Men’s Wearhouse at the Empire Center, one of several demonstrations that have arisen in Burbank while hundreds have been held across the country to demand police reform and justice for black people killed by officers.
Those demands were echoed at the council meeting, with residents requesting that members review the Burbank Police Department’s budget and use-of-force policies.
However, those matters, which were brought up after a brief report from Chief Scott LaChasse, were not addressed by council members during Tuesday’s meeting.
“It is important for us to be clear and specific right now, because we are at a pivotal moment in history,” said Heather Robb, who called in from the protest to comment at the meeting. “I hope this moment does for Burbank what we see it doing in cities all over our country, causing us to examine and reflect on the role that police play in our communities.”
Robb also asked the council to revisit the department’s budget, saying that the percentage of funds allocated to it does not reflect the community’s values. The department’s $61.76 million general fund budget is about 31% of the city’s total proposed general fund budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, though city staff members have previously warned that there remain many financial unknowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sgt. Derek Green, public information officer for the BPD, said in an emailed statement that “the Burbank Police Department believes that adequate training and equipping of police officers is essential to public safety and safeguarding our community. Training and equipment comes at an expense. Any reductions in funding would have a detrimental effect on the Department’s ability to continue on its path of progressive law enforcement reform.” Continue reading “Police, City Council Address Oversight Concerns”