FBI probe targets Burbank police
FBI officials confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating possible civil rights violations by officers at the Burbank Police Department.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller would not comment on specifics of the probe by the agency’s civil rights division or on how long the probe would last.
At least seven lawsuits alleging a pattern of racial discrimination and retaliation, as well as unlawful demotions or firings, have been filed by officers against the department. But sources familiar with the investigation said the FBI probe is not focusing on those allegations.
Burbank Mayor Gary Bric said he was confident that the investigations into the department, which also includes an independent probe by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, would be thorough and complete. He said there would be no limits on investigators.
“I’m sure people are looking at this and have questions and concerns about what’s happening to our Police Department,” Bric said. “But we can assure there’s been no impact on public safety.”
Bric said that the city had begun investigating the department long before the lawsuits were filed and that the city brought in the Sheriff’s Department to conduct an independent review.
That review is done and is expected to be turned over to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The latest suit was filed last month by Bill Taylor, who alleged that his demotion to captain from deputy chief was due to supporting officers who had filed complaints against the department.
In July, Christopher Lee Dunn, who won the Medal of Valor as a Los Angeles police officer before joining the Burbank force, sued the department.
He alleged in a 22-page complaint that he was subjected to racial taunts for years and discouraged from joining the narcotics unit because he was not white.
After success with another unit, the lawsuit alleges, he was targeted by management before eventually being run out of the department.
Two months before Taylor filed his suit, five other officers alleged in suits that they tolerated an environment in which officers commonly used slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preference directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public.
Burbank City Atty. Dennis Barlow said he was unable to comment on the FBI investigation or the lawsuits against the city and Police Department, citing pending litigation.
News of the FBI investigation was first reported by the Burbank Leader.