Diversity

Officer Kristiana Sanchez practices a pursuit during a police training at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank. Less than 10% of the department's officers are women. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Staff Photographer / November 2, 2011)

As another discrimination lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department heads to trial — this time for a female officer alleging she was subjected to verbal harassment because of her gender, ethnicity, marital status and pregnancy — recent figures show a male-dominated force still working to become more representative of the city’s population.

Of the department’s 157 sworn officers, just 15 are females — or less than 10% — as of May, the latest figures available, according to police.

Police commanders acknowledge that there is still progress to be made on making the department more diverse, but say their primary goal is to hire the best officers available.

An Asian woman and a Latina hold the rank of detective but no women hold positions higher than detective, documents show.

But despite the male-dominated ratio, police say never before have there been so many women in the department.

“While progress is modest, we continue to seek the best to reflect the diversity of the community we serve,” Deputy Chief Tom Angel said in an email.

In 2010, there were 11 female officers and in 2007 there were 13, according to information provided by police.

The number of officers representing ethnic minorities has increased slightly from 48 in 2007 to 50 in 2010, and to 51 as of May 1 this year, records show.

The total number of sworn officers has remained fairly constant, hovering at about 155 since 2007.

Latinos make up the largest ethnic male minority, with 26 officers; there are five black officers and five Asian officers. Five officers are listed as Native American or “other.”

The two largest ethnic groups in Burbank are Latinos and Asians, who make up 24.5% and about 11% of the population, respectively, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures.

But Asian police officers represent about 4% of the department while Latinos comprise 21% of the department.

Of the roughly 103,000 residents in Burbank, 44.5% speak a language other than English at home, Census data shows.

Since Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse took the reins two years ago, 17 officers have been hired. Ten are minorities and five of the 17 are women.

LaChasse also talked about the toll the lawsuits — mostly centered on allegations of racial discrimination and harassment — are taking on a department that he has pushed to modernize.

“It’s a very real issue for us, there is some angst developing among some individuals, a lot of people are having to testify in court — testify to the truth,” LaChasse said. “A lot of people would like to put this behind them, and it did resurrect some old baggage. But we need to find a way to move the entire organization forward, together.”