Greater scrutiny of deadly force, in-custody deaths and other incidents begins today for a Police Department eager to emerge from a rocky period of discrimination and misconduct allegations.
The roughly $180,000, three-year agreement approved by the City Council gives Michael Gennaco the authority to review and report on all administrative investigations in which the employee is the rank of sergeant or higher. He will also review a random selection of one-third of citizen complaints and 25% of all use-of-force reviews, among other responsibilities, according to the contract.
The increased oversight comes amid an ongoing FBI investigation into the Police Department and as officer-related lawsuits wind their way through the city appeals process and the courts.
“Where we’re coming from is that independent oversight is absolutely essential to ensure public confidence in our processes, standards and policies, as well as in the actions of our personnel,” Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse said.
Gennaco will basically be issuing a report card on police actions and how police responded to and disposed of complaints, LaChasse added.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we want to be on the cutting edge of the profession,” he said, “which means continuous improvement, and it’s vital for the organization and people of the organization.”
Gennaco, who has worked with the city in investigating an officer-involved shooting at Universal Studios and an in-custody death in 2010, will continue working with Burbank, but now as an independent monitor of the department.
Gennaco is also the chief attorney for the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which oversees the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
Under the terms of the agreement, Gennaco will report findings twice a year to City Manager Mike Flad, LaChasse and City Atty. Amy Albano, as well as at a public meeting with the Police Commission; and then the City Council.
Gennaco’s scope of work would be reviewed in December.
Police have identified myriad goals for the coming years to help reform the department, including greater oversight and recently starting the process of accreditation through the Commission for Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.