The Police Commission is poised to defy orders from the City Council to address the behavior of a fellow commissioner who has come under scrutiny for saying a public speaker should be “slapped around a bit” during a meeting.
The commission last week all but said it wouldn’t hold a confidence vote for colleague Jim Etter at a meeting in February.
“It is not the business of the Police Commission on whether or not we like someone,” said Police Commission Chairman Robert Frutos. That sentiment found wide agreement on the dais.
Etter has been under scrutiny after suggesting a speaker be “slapped around a bit” during the final public comment period at a joint meeting with the City Council in late November.
The comments were directed at Burbank resident Brett Loutensock, who challenged the commissioner’s character with accusations of perjury and injecting himself into police situations in the field.
Etter refuted Loutensock’s statements and said he has never picked a fight with a police officer or appeared in court.
“He’s dead wrong on what he’s telling the council and public, and he should be admonished for that or slapped around a little bit,” Etter said at the meeting. “He’s just not telling the truth.”
The City Council discussed possibly removing Etter from the commission, but decided to remand the issue to the Police Commission meeting in February.
“Saying you can’t play with someone in the sandbox is disrespectful to the role of boards and commissions,” said Frutos, a candidate in the upcoming City Council election. “This should be sent back to the council — they need deal with it, and we need to deal with other problems.”
Commissioner Elise Stearns-Niesen agreed, calling the council edict a “distraction.”
“It isn’t our responsibility,” she said. “We don’t assign who is going to be on the commission, and it is not our place to take someone off.”
The Police Commission is scheduled to officially discuss the issue at its Feb. 16 meeting at City Hall.