Few show up at police forum

CITY HALL — The first major move by the Glendale Police Department to introduce a public forum for community issues lasted only 35 minutes Monday evening, with the newly established Police Advisory Council fielding just two speakers who regularly attend meetings at City Hall.

The meeting came nearly three months after an interdepartmental flier depicting a Glendale police patrol car with Armenian state colors surfaced at a City Council meeting — prompting a brief public outcry over ethnic sensitivity.

None of the handful of speakers who conveyed impassioned stories of police wrongdoings to the City Council in August were at the meeting Monday, including Richard Espiritu, who publicly touted the doctored police flier as proof that Glendale’s force required greater transparency.

The police employee who created the flier several years ago was “severely disciplined” at the time after an internal investigation, but the document was revived recently for an unrelated employee lawsuit.

While Espiritu claimed to have obtained the color reproduction of the flier from that lawsuit’s case file, Los Angeles Superior Court officials said color copies of any case file are not available to the public, prompting some city officials to question whether the document was leaked for political gain.

At the time, Espiritu and several others active at City Hall called for a possible police commission, but that idea found little traction with the City Council.

As an alternative, Police Chief Randy Adams set up the seven-member Police Advisory Council as a subcommittee to the Community Police Partnership Advisory Committee, a group of 25 residents who advise the department on policy and city issues.

While the advisory committee’s meetings are typically closed, Adams also opened up the first 15 minutes of those quarterly agendas to public comment.

“This is a work in progress,” said Glendale Police Capt. Kirk Palmer, who heads the department’s Administrative Services Division.

With just five members of the public in the audience Monday, Palmer gave the subcommittee an overview of how officers handle and investigate formal complaints, which can be submitted to the department in almost every way, from a phone call to mail to verbal conversation and via the Internet, he said.

“There really is no barrier to complaint intake,” Palmer said, adding that the department “takes this process very seriously and investigates claims very vigorously.”

With suggestions from community activists Sharon Weisman and Nancy Kent — fixtures at City Council meetings — on how to better engage the public, advisory council members said they were looking forward to addressing any and all concerns during the forum’s six-month trial run.

“It’s not just a process,” advisory council member Maria Rochart said. “We’re here to listen and learn and make things better.”

After the meeting adjourned, the advisory council’s chairman, Marko Swan, said he thought the first meeting “was a good start,” and that it would be up to the public to use the forum for what it was.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World