Burbank is bringing in another high-profile, high-priced consultant to assist with ongoing reforms at the Burbank Police Department.
The Burbank City Council unanimously approved hiring Robert Corbin to serve as a strategic advisor to the Police Commission, with no discussion on the cost of the one-year contract — $10,000 for 26 hours.
Councilman David Gordon was absent.
Corbin's job will be to train police commissioners who “want to play a key role in monitoring the implementation of the strategic plan,” said Councilman Dave Golonski, who with Gordon acts as a liaison to the commission.
Corbin is an attorney who was staff counsel to the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, which was created in 1991 after the beating of Rodney King. The commission found there were a significant number of officers in the LAPD that repeatedly used excessive force against the public.
Burbank police commissioners were given the task by the council at a joint meeting in November to oversee how, and if, police were truly making the reforms outlined in its strategic plan. The council also discussed the possibility of having an independent monitor oversee how the department handles investigations.
Attorney Michael Gennaco was hired in February on a three-year, roughly $180,000 contract to review and report on all police administrative investigations involving the rank of sergeant or higher, among other responsibilities.
Gennaco is the chief attorney for the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which monitors the sheriff's department.
The increased oversight comes as police are working to leave behind a past that included investigations into allegations of excessive use of force and an ongoing FBI probe.
Deputy Chief Tom Angel said commissioners would be taking a hard look at the strategic plan and providing input on what they believe are high priorities for the community.
Police brass and city officials see Corbin playing a key role in training police commissioners and strengthening their ability to oversee police.
“I think Mr. Corbin is an excellent tool for the commission to rely on in evaluating the strategic plan and questioning us about the validity of our efforts to reform the organization,” Angel said. “He's very experienced in this and I think he's going to be a fine mentor, if you will, to the Police Commission to dig into analytical, critical thinking.”
Commissioners have conceded that they could use the direction as they venture into new territory.
Golonski said in an interview that in the past, the commission had more working knowledge of police operations, “and it didn't really change things.” It's more important that the commission define its role and goals, he added.
Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse said there is a difference in the skills Gennaco and Corbin bring to the table.
“Corbin was involved with the Christopher Commission and investigation into the Rampart scandal, and has a particular skill set when it comes to reform activities” and the mechanisms to ensure reforms stay in place, LaChasse said.
“Gennaco is ensuring our ‘Is' are dotted and ‘Ts' are crossed when it comes to uses of force, administrative investigations and biased policing.”
Burbank is also a little different when it comes to the police commission compared to other cities, LaChasse added.
“It's an educational process,” he said. “The Police Commission never had penetrating oversight responsibilities in the past. It's a paradigm shift.”