Commanders address police union grievances

Burbank police union officials say commanders have acquiesced to many of the grievances they filed against the impacts of reassigning rank-and-file officers.

The grievances, filed in late April, focused on the lack of police officers in key field positions, said union vice president Claudio Losacco, limiting the amount of proactive policing and increasing response times.

Capt. Mike Albanese, a 37-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who arrived in Burbank last year, met with members of the department last week and promised to address their concerns, according to Losacco.

According to an internal city report, the average response time for emergency calls for service in May was 3 minutes, 50 seconds — an increase from 3 minutes, 12 seconds in 2009, before the schedule changes were implemented, according to department records.


Albanese said the department is working to examine what factors in the city are contributing to longer response times and plan to address the issue as quickly as possible.

Police officials declined to comment on the grievances, but confirmed the Crime Impact Team — formed last year to focus on “problem areas” experiencing crime trends — will be reassigned to act as a gang enforcement unit.

Staffing the unit with one sergeant and four officers will make the gang detail larger than in previous years, Albanese said.

Showing a uniformed presence will improve public safety and discourage gang activity, such as tagging, which has been on the rise recently, he said.


“They will be monitoring activity, suppressing activity and educating those involved that there will be zero tolerance in Burbank,” Albanese said.

Command staff also assured union officials that supervision and oversight in the field would be addressed, a problem that often rises as patrol officers are used for other functions.

The grievance was not intended to cause unrest, but to discuss alternatives to the new scheduling and staffing system, Losacco said.

“The grievance was a vehicle to start a dialogue,” Losacco said, adding that he was glad the dispute over the filing procedure “did not become a roadblock.”

City Manager Mike Flad and Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse had initially rebuffed the grievance for being filed improperly and without merit.

Burbank Police Officers Assn. had filed it under a city administrative procedure that applies only to non-union employees.

According to the grievance, a new schedule for patrol officers was implemented at the same time as the new detail, which reduced staffing by 25% while working without two of four assigned watch commanders. It also states that the investigative division was working with 31 sworn staff members in 2010 compared with 42 in 2009.

The department still has seven officer vacancies, according to a city budget report.