A former employee speaks out

This just came in as a comment to another article, but it deserves to be highlighted in one of its own.

The “Portos Mess” obviously isn’t over just because the Justice Department threw up its hands in disgust.

Two years ago, I retired from the Burbank Police Department as a Lieutenant with 21 years of distinguished service. I had the opportunity to work with countless community members and several employees at the department/city who are members of the minority groups that Tom Angel degraded and Chief LaChasse tacitly condoned. I am deeply saddened and regret that your leadership has this view and perpetuates it.

Some historical perspective is in order here. LaChasse was brought in (initially on an interim basis) on the heels of a scandal. His mission was to right the ship, dole out discipline, improve morale, abolish the “good ol’ boy system” of discipline and promotion and address allegations of racism, discrimination and harassment within the department. He was apparently chosen based on his years of working at LAPD and the experience he gained navigating similar problems within that organization. He assembled his “team” of reformers which included Tom Angel (from LASD) to be his Deputy Chief.

LaChasse was tasked with leading the department though a difficult period, but as one looks at his objectives point by point, it is clear that he has consistently failed. Members from within the department have complained of his ineptness, lying, and hypocrisy for years, but the council and public would not hear it. They had bought into LaChasse and his team of “Reformers” but as the curtain is pulled back, the Reformers are slowly, but consistently, being exposed as Charlatans.

Since his arrival, he has spent hundreds of thousands of Burbank Tax Payer dollars (with the approval of the City Council) to meet his stated objectives. One of his first commissions was hiring noted police psychologist Larry Blum to survey, evaluate and report on the morale within the ranks. This report was scathing; noting among other things low morale and unfairness in discipline and promotion.

Soon after taking the helm, LaChasse fired 10 employees. To date four of the ten employees he fired have had their cases overturned resulting in settlements from the city and reinstatement as police officers (including SIGNIFICANT back pay awards). One of the cases (Bill Taylor) resulted in a jury award of over one million dollars to Taylor for wrongful termination. The decision to terminate was made by LaChasse.

Morale in the department is currently described by many, if not most, as being at all-time lows. This is evidenced by employees fleeing the department; low officer initiated contacts, low observed arrest rates, increasing crime, inability to recruit, staffing shortages and forced hiring. It is also greatly impacted by LaChasse’s self-serving decisions; such as the one to attend the Baker to Vegas race after the Burbank team had to withdraw (the first time in 25 years) due to staffing shortages.

Much of the funds LaChasse has spent were on oversight contracts such as the costly Office of Independent Review, a team of lawyers who were supposed to also be providing oversight to the LASD during which time their own jail scandal flourished and OIR did nothing to prevent it. They were subsequently fired from LASD, yet LaChasse still has a lucrative contract with them.

Now evidence is surfacing that supports what department employees realized years ago; Chief LaChasse is out of touch, routinely misleads the City Council, the Police Commission, and the press, is a hypocrite, wastes taxpayer funds and is a failed leader.

For perspective, emails very similar to the ones sent by Tom Angel were discovered during the DOJ probe of the Ferguson, Mo Police Department. In that case a police sergeant resigned and a city clerk was fired for the emails. In San Francisco, an investigation is underway where 4 low level officers were texting racist and discriminatory texts. To date, three of those officers have resigned and a fourth is facing discipline. Lets not forget that Lachasse’s mantra during his first few years at the department was “The DOJ is whatching us.” Lachasse even flew to Washington DC with then CM Mike Flad to discuss the DOJ’s interest in the BPD! How does LaChasse, the Reformer hired to deal with racial discord, deal with the exact same situation created by his handpicked second-in-command? He talked to him about it. His response was nothing short of the good ol’ boy manner of discipline. How should it have been handled or how would it have been handled if the revelation did not include his loyal companion?

There would be an investigation that would review the extent of the emails. The employee would have to answer who he got the emails from and who he sent them to. The employee would be asked why he sent the emails and why he did not put an end to them. Ultimately, the employee would have been found to have violated the City’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy, Computer policy, and the policy about maintaining proper working relationships. The employee would have received some meaningful discipline (probably a suspension without pay) and a record would be kept in his personnel file. This record would be one of the things disclosed when/if the employee sought employment at another police agency (as did Tom Angel, when he went back to LASD).

The behavior is absolutely unacceptable, but the response from LaChasse is yet another example of his failed leadership. Tom Angel was not the focus of an investigation and received no discipline for his involvement in this abhorrent behavior that, aside from exposing his true feelings toward minorities, further tarnished the Burbank Police Department and the Law Enforcement Profession. LaChasse responded that he cannot comment because it is a “personnel matter”, but a review of Tom Angel’s Salary (posted on Burbank’s website) shows that he had no negative financial impact. Rather than address the issue and send a clear message that the behavior was unacceptable, Lachasse tacitly approved it by giving no negative consequences.

It is apparent that LaChasse and Sheriff McDonnell did not learn Leadership during their decades of working at scandal ridden LAPD, but rather became experts in weathering the storm and manipulating the public, press and elected officials. McDonnell’s response that it served as a, “teaching moment” and defending Angel as, “professional and respectful of everyone he works with and deals with” does nothing to address his underlying racial bias that is devastating to an agency he is responsible for leading, not to mention the community he is policing.

As far as Burbank is concerned, it is now up to the public, City Council and City Manager to tacitly approve LaChasse’s failed leadership or take a stand against racism, discrimination and harassment. It is time to look at his legacy as a whole, rather than the individual failures. It is time that the Council, the City Manager, and the Police Commission stop believing everything LaChasse says and start holding him accountable. It is time to determine if LaChasse really is branding the department in a manner consistent with the objectives / responsibilities of the City Manager and Elected Officials.

It is time that the City Council responsibly spends some money to find out what is really happening inside the walls of the department. This should include an audit of Lachasse’s spending, discipline decisions, a critical review of his past leadership including; allocation of resources, recruitment, retention, impact on crime (good or bad), self-initiated activity, and a new study to determine morale within the ranks as well as his ability to lead for the future.

Interesting points about the City of Burbank’s computer-use policy. Was it not enforced in this case?

Everyone knows that you don’t use work email for such joking around. Why was it being used in these cases for (supposedly) non-Burbank recipients? It was never used in such a way for fellow Burbank employees?

Does anyone really believe that these jokes only went to outsiders?

You can see why Albano and her legal staff don’t want to release the names of the city’s recipients of this nonsense, or any of the other what have to be numerous emails on the same subject(s). That knowledge — and the inevitable jokey responses back to Angel — would rip both the BPD and City Hall apart. Jokester Angel didn’t just “forward” four or five of these jokes, and he didn’t just send them to non-employees.

Only an idiot apologist would try to deny this.

So why is the Burbank City Council tolerating this obvious cover-up? And what are they going to do about LaChasse’s longtime unwillingness to face up to the facts here?










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6 responses to “A former employee speaks out

  1. chad

    Why does the “fact” that they were sent to non-employees make this somehow okay in the eyes of some? If this is true, what this shows is that Angel knew they were offensive and purposefully tried to not show these “jokes” to fellow employees but used city communication systems to disperse offensive crap to his friends who would not think they were offensive- the latter is almost more disturbing. And if LaChasse makes excuses for this he has to go. Zero tolerance – period.

  2. Anonymous

    Fact: LaChasse had the Blum survey done but refused to released the results to his own department except his “reform team.” The managers and supervisors have asked to see the results so they would know what they were dealing with as a part of the team but were not. How come no new survey has ever been done to see where the department is at?

    Fact: LaChasse fired 10 people but admitted he only read the summary of the investigations to make his decision. The former deputy chief of the department Bill Taylor is being investigated and you only read a summary and not the entire investigation?

    Fact: the former deputy chief is suing the department and the trial is on and where is the chief during this time? At a conference with his chief cronies, he sends Tom Angel in his absence.

    Fact: Officers involved in traffic accidents and internal investigations are done and officers are held accountable in the disciplinary process. Who did the investigations and held the chief accountable for his accident(s) in a city car?

    Fact: Chief is more worried about hiring and promoting diversity to fit the city image but not the best people. Promoting from the bottom and just filling a quota he set for the council or commission?

    Question: Who in their right mind would go to Baker to Vegas when your own team stays home? Nice leadership or is this a”teaching moment” sent to the troops?

    Question: If other members of the department have been disciplined for poor emails or comments and such while the Deputy Chief has not, shouldn’t their discipline be removed? Do the right thing and you are always on parade was the chief’s mantra when hired, do the actions match the words?

  3. Lacheat is a big Fucking liar and his cronies Angel and Albanese were as big as liars as they get. They are greedy hypocritical power hungry morons who screwed over BPD, as bad as Sterh and his cronies did. I worked there for 28 years and I know them all well. Typical do as I say not as I do, out of touch supervisors. Angel and Albanese misused Federal funds just like a former BPD officer was accused of and went to prison. This is the truth as they miss used Federal grant funds to harass and punish me for bringing in the FBI. After my 2 year long Administrative leave that Timmy the POS put me on, I made it back to work and believed the new Management would not punish me because they earned their jobs from the house cleaning.

    The first meeting I had to get back to work was with Albanese and Angel and this was the first time I ever met them. I was coming back from my 2 year Admin. leave (something that the city spent well over $400,000 dollars to keep me on and send me to doctors, after being falsely accused of being unfit for duty). In this first meeting, I was basically told that if I did not conform to them and if I disrupted the new officers in any way that I would be back on Admin. leave again. It was a very hostile meeting that I did not see coming. In my prior work history, I had a long time medical issue where I was unable to wear a ballistic vest and I had over 14 years of doctors note’s, that excused me from wearing the vest. The GO (General Order) before I was placed on Admin. leave did read that as long as an officer had a doctors note they would be excused from wearing the vest at all times. This was a working condition that I worked under for the last 15+ years. But in this meeting Angel and Albanese said the General Order was changed right before I got back to work and that there were no more exemptions allowed due to the federal Grant the department received. Not knowing at the time that Angel and Albanese are lying to me, they say the department received a Federal Grant for ballistic vests and in order to get the grant, BPD would not be allowed to have medical exemptions for any officer at all.. Note an officer could be severely punished or fired for violating a General order.

    I believed this lie and I thought I had no choice, so I said I would try to wear my vest. After 1 month my medical condition was so severe I could not wear the vest at all. I fought them and agreed to try to wear a vest that is worn on the outside of the uniform, still believing I had too. After 2 months and $700 dollars spent from the Federal funds, I finally received the outside wearing vest. I was still unable to wear this vest or any vest at all, for the rest of my career and I had a doctor’s note that stated that. When Albanese found out I was not wearing the outside vest he went crazily angry and wanted me punished. I finally researched the DOJ Federal bullet proof vest program and learned that not only was their an exemption for an officer with medical needs to not wear the vest, but the Chief could exempt any officer for different reasons and the department would still and did get the grant money.

    So, I fired off many scathing memo’s calling them (Albanese and Angel) liars and filed a complaint with Human Resources that later backed them up and protected management. So Angel then goes and changes the General Order regarding the wearing of the vests for a second time, because he was going to make me wear the vest to punish me, as he didn’t give a shit about me or my medical exemption. All because I caught him in a major lie. I was continually harassed for the next and last 3 years on the job. I was denied a much earned Detective promotion and was screwed out of the promotion by these unprofessional greedy, lying POS. They changed the vest General Orders 3 times while I was there trying to force me to wear the vest, even though I had a medical reason and condition that affected me from wearing it. My wearing of the vest never stopped the way I performed my job and was not in any way a safety issue to another officer or myself, as they tried to say. All my past and current evaluations backed up that I performed all my duties necessary, so they could not say it was a safety issue for me not to wear the vest.

    Before the third vest General Order change, Albanese got word that on a residential burglary call that I did not put on my vest. Now I had read the vest General Order changes from top to bottom and knew I was still exempt from they way it was written. They thought differently and believed I violated the General Order. So Albanese started a I.A. investigation to show that I violated the General Order. Well, in the IA I told the LT. that I was exempt from wearing the vest at all times and I was not in violation of the General Order. I had numerous other people confirm the reading of the General Order and it was found that I was right and they were wrong. This was an unnecessary and complete harassment type of IA investigation, solely to try to unfairly punish me. So they didn’t get to punish me, so they changed the vest General Order for the third time, in less the 3 years. all in effort to punish me and get me to wear the vest when i was medically unable too. This was also spear headed by Angel because I called them liars even though that was the very truth. That maangement killed all moral in BPD and that is why numerous officers at all levels have left early because of their poor. shitty, greedy, favorable treatment for new officers, over the senior officers, management style.

    It made me sick to read the comment by McDonnel about Angel, that Angels statements were “uncharacteristic act” that do not reflect Angels’ usual good character. That is the biggest crock of shit I have ever read. Those derogatory comments by Angel are exactly who he is and what he stands for. This POS McDonnel is protecting his cronies and Angel as typically top Management does. The Sheriff department has new racial and
    moral problems with that type of people. The good thing is that scumbag Angel does not work at BPD, but while he was there he fucked up that department and took Burbank’s money laughing all the way to the bank. They need to fire LaCheat and Albanese and find some better professional people to change the environment or things are going to get a lot worse.

    • semichorus

      Any such requirement that an employer must waive a medical restriction limitation would seriously violate the ADA. So yes, right there they were lying to you. Accommodations must be made and allowed unless they seriously interfere with the operations, in which case they would then have to find something else for you to do.

      They were just using this “rule” to harass you and force you to quit.

      Interesting comments. The BPD story is apparently not over. The fact that these managers have the time to engage in these kind of stunts just proves that Burbank deserves the candy-ass reputation it has earned.

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