Search for permanent Burbank police chief could finish by mid-October

The search for a permanent Burbank police chief nearly three years after Scott LaChasse was appointed to the interim position could wrap up by mid-October, city officials said this week.

During an update to the Burbank City Council on Tuesday, officials said the recruitment period for finding candidates was slated to end Sept. 21, with City Manager Mike Flad assembling three panels for the interview process, which will begin in October.

One panel will consist of city executives, another of local police chiefs, and the third of a local district attorney and law enforcement professionals.

LaChasse, who has been at the helm of the department now for nearly three years, was brought on in the wake of internal and external investigations into alleged excessive use of force and a slew of lawsuits filed by current and former officers who claimed sexual harassment, retaliation and racial discrimination.

Councilman David Gordon pushed to delay the recruitment and hiring process to January, citing the recent turmoil within the police department to argue it’s unwise to hire a new chief until the issues are resolved in the courts.

“It’s a little awkward, quite frankly, when the chief is asked to reapply,” Gordon said at the City Council meeting Tuesday, referring to LaChasse. “If he’s doing such a great job, you should reappoint him.”

Some residents in the audience shared Gordon’s sentiment.

“We have a lot of fixing to do,” said resident and business owner Ara Manoogian. “If we don't get somebody that's almost a clone of the chief today, we’re going to have problems.”

But Councilman Gary Bric said the search was a matter of process.

“If you just handed it over to him, you’re going to have people out there saying, ‘Dear God, I could’ve applied for that. But I’m not going to sit there and jeopardize my position with another agency knowing that it could be six months and a year, then I have to reapply,’” Bric said.

The opening has been publicized nationally and to all California police chiefs, Flad said. The City Council will not be involved in picking the final candidate, as Flad has sole hiring authority.

Each of the three panels will choose the top candidates for a separate interview with Flad, who is expected to make the final hiring decision by mid-October.

City spokesman Drew Sugars declined to comment on how many applications the city has received so far.

“The goal is to get as many candidates as possible,” he said. “Anything that might jeopardize anybody from applying, we’re not going to release that information.”

[For the Record, Sept. 13: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that LaChasse had applied for the permanent position.]

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek


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