Burbank police disproportionately arrested and interviewed higher percentages of Black and Hispanic people in the field last year compared with the local population, according to an internal report.
However, the Burbank Police Department said in its report that because so many workers commute into the city, its daytime population is likely “substantially different” from the residential demographics recorded by the U.S. Census. The BPD estimates that the city’s daytime population increases from about 103,000 to more than 200,000 due to commuting workers.
And compared with the racial demographics of Los Angeles County, Burbank officers’ field contacts — arrests and “field interviews” — underrepresented white, Hispanic and Asian people. But Black individuals remained overrepresented.
The BPD declined to comment on the disproportionality beyond what was included in the report.
The review, which is available on the BPD website, reports that out of the 4,059 field contacts officers made in 2020, 42% were of white individuals, while 38% were Hispanic, 12% were Black, 1% were Asian and 7% were another race. The data did not include traffic stops.
According to the most recent U.S. Census data, 52% of Burbank’s population is white, 24% is Hispanic, 3% is Black, 12% is Asian and 4% is another race. But L.A. County’s demographics differ greatly: 26% of residents are white, 49% are Hispanic, 9% are Black and 15% are Asian.
Last year’s demographic breakdown of field contacts has changed little over the past three years, department reports show. In 2019, when Burbank officers made 5,072 contacts, 45% were with white individuals, while 36% were Hispanic, 11% were Black and 1% were Asian.
MOST ALLEGATIONS ‘UNFOUNDED’
This year was the first the BPD has posted its field contacts report publicly. The reports themselves are collected by the department’s internal affairs bureau in accordance with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ guidelines, a credentialing organization for police departments.
The report also mentioned that there were four investigations started in 2020 regarding allegations of bias, racial profiling or discriminatory practices by BPD personnel. All four investigations stemmed from citizen complaints, though only one remains an active case.
Sgt. Emil Brimway explained in an email that two of the complaints regarded traffic stops. Both were made for valid reasons, he said.
“The officers would not have been able to determine the occupants’ race prior to the stops, and race was not a factor in the interaction,” he added.
The third case, Brimway continued, was opened after a witness said officers stopped two men based on their race. However, Brimway said, the officers were responding to a report of suspected criminal activity made by ununiformed detectives conducting surveillance.
No information was available on the active investigation.
The BPD’s annual report on misconduct allegations is not yet available, and could take “a couple months” to complete as investigations continue, Brimway said. In 2019, there were four resident complaints made of discrimination or harassment, and 14 of unlawful profiling.
The department determined most of those complaints to be “unfounded,” though three remained pending at the time the report was released and one was denoted as having insufficient evidence.
An external auditing organization that analyzed a sample of those 2019 cases praised the BPD in its report last year, saying “the Department did a commendable job of taking all complaints seriously and investigating them with objectivity and thoroughness.”
ASSAULTS ON OFFICERS DROP
In a separate report, the BPD also found that there were 22 instances of sworn officers being assaulted in the local jurisdiction last year, a drop from 32 in 2019.
Most of the incidents occurred following a call for service, the report noted. Officers used force in 41% of the events — usually hand-to-hand combat — and 23% resulted in injury to a suspect, though none required hospitalization. Roughly 36% of the assaults resulted in an officer being injured, though none were hospitalized or killed.
About 41% of the suspects were white, according to the report, while 32% were Black and 27% were Hispanic. In approximately two-thirds of the incidents, the suspect used their hands, feet, spit or other “personal weapon.” The suspect showed signs of mental health issues in just under a quarter of the incidents.
In both the bias and assault reports, the internal affairs bureau decided against making any recommendations to change BPD policy.