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Burbank police chief steps down

Tim Stehr, who became chief in 2007, did not give a reason for his resignation. Several current and former officers at the department are being investigated by the FBI.

November 10, 2009|Andrew Blankstein

The chief of the Burbank Police Department announced Monday that he is stepping down, a month after the FBI revealed it was investigating several current and former officers at the agency.

Tim Stehr, 51, who became chief in 2007, made his announcement in a statement released by the city. He did not give a reason for his resignation.

"It has been my absolute privilege to serve as chief in the city of Burbank," Stehr said in the statement.

"Our department is facing challenging times. The healing process will be a long one, but I have tremendous confidence in the brave men and women of our department and the citizens of this community. As I prepare to retire, I wish to thank all those who made the department's success possible."

Stehr's retirement comes nearly a week after he was bitterly criticized by the family of a Burbank police sergeant who took his own life and by other officers who blamed the chief and other city officials for the death, saying the sergeant was the victim of retaliation for defending fellow officers.

Neil Thomas Gunn Sr., 50, was one of a dozen current or former Burbank officers who had their records subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in connection with an FBI investigation into excessive force at the department. Earlier this year, five officers filed suit against the Burbank Police Department, alleging discrimination and retaliation. Gunn also was expected to be a witness for the officers.

Burbank Mayor Gary Bric said it was his understanding that Stehr planned to retire in early 2010 after 30 years on the force.

"Obviously, things got pushed up for reasons I can't speculate on," Bric said. "Chief Stehr enjoyed a long, dedicated career with the Burbank Police Department and I wish him the best in his retirement, which ultimately was his decision."

As for the three investigations involving the department, Bric said he would reserve judgment until all the reviews were completed.

In September, FBI officials confirmed that they are investigating possible civil rights violations alleged by officers at the department.

Additionally, at least seven lawsuits have been filed by officers against the department, alleging a pattern of racial discrimination and retaliation, as well as unlawful demotions or firings.

Officials said the city had begun its own investigation of the department long before the suits were filed and asked the L.A. County Sheriff's Department to open an independent review of the accusations, which is now complete, according to city officials.

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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