Blue line gets a little thicker

The Burbank Police Department welcomed four new officers last week and promoted three others from within to the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain.

Even with the new officers and promotions, the department still has seven vacant positions, which Police Administrator Josephine Wilson said she hopes to fill before the end of the year.

“We hope to have all of those positions in police academy soon,” Wilson said. “They are all totally funded in the proposed budget.”

In an effort to trim $1.95 million from the department’s budget — part of an across-the-board 5% cut at City Hall — Police Chief Scott LaChasse has proposed sharing the cost of three school resource officer positions with Burbank Unified School District and contracting out the crossing guard program. He’s also proposed freezing four vacancies and transferring two police officer positions to a different division as part of a restructuring of the city’s share of the helicopter program.

“Two officers that are a part of the air support unit could go back into the patrol unit,” Wilson said. “There will be no bodies lost with this proposal.”

The restructuring of the air support unit for a potential $200,000 in savings is part an effort to cut 5% from the budget without layoffs, officials said.

“We have $1.7-million in discretionary funds and were asked to cut $1.9 million from our budget,” Wilson said. “Even if we got rid of everything, from water to pencils to paper, we still wouldn’t get to the target.”

Salaries and benefits will have to be looked at to make any meaningful cuts, she added.

Newly appointed Capt. Ron Caruso, a 29-year veteran of the department, was appointed to oversee the Support Services Division, which faces restructuring for jail and animal control staffing, as well as the continuing renovations for the jail.

“Part of my job is figuring out how to best use the limited amount of resources we have,” Caruso said.

While the department proposes freezing the jail manager and jailer positions, the budget also calls for a new sergeant and detective to oversee jail operations and provide additional oversight.

LaChasse is scheduled to present his proposed budget to City Council on May 19.


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