On Thursday, the city of Burbank announced plans to begin the process of taking the phrase “interim” out of the title, police chief.
Whether the longtime holder of that position, Scott LaChasse, decides to apply for the position is yet to be seen. Whoever is chosen for the job, we urge city leaders to make the process completely transparent, and to give significant power to the Police Commission in the final decision.
LaChasse has been interim police chief for 30 months, nearly the same amount of time his less-than-distinguished predecessor, Tim Stehr, held the permanent position.
During his time in the role, LaChasse has done an exceptional job in starting to turn the department from one derided or feared by its residents — one mired in bigoted, racist and sexist tendencies — to a true community partner.
We wish LaChasse well, regardless of his decision, but suspect he already has a good idea whether he’d be offered the job. This is part of the problem.
The process for picking a permanent police chief must be an open one. City Manager Mike Flad has wide ability, as the chief executive of the city, to shape the process and choose the chief, as he would for any department head. But the chief of police, particularly in Burbank, is not a hidden executive. It would do this city some real good, and build upon the hard-fought gains LaChasse has already made, to make the process an open and collaborative one.
The Burbank Police Commission has been fighting for some time for more power and more relevancy. Now is the time to give it that power. Giving commissioners the ability to veto any selection Flad makes would be a good start, as it would create a truly collaborate selection process.