Monday, February 6, 2012

Mexico loves Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank!

Mexico loves Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank!

Or, at least, Mexico's American attorneys do.

In the amicus curiae brief filed in June of 2011 on behalf of the Mexican government as part of the lawsuit against Utah's immigration enforcement law, HB 497, Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank was listed as a co-author of two articles in the "Other Authorities" section of the brief.

Makes you proud of Chief Burbank, doesn't it?

The brief is part of the effort to keep HB 497 from being implemented. 

The brief is available at:

The first citation in the brief is to an opinion article that appeared at

Chris Burbank, Phillip Atiba Goff & Tracie L. Keesee, Policing Immigration: A Job We Do Not Want, Huffington Post, June 7, 2010,

This article is available at the link cited (  and is short, but insightful, into the position held by Chief Burbank.

The second article is cited as:

Phillip Atiba Goff, Liana Maris Epstein, Chris Burbank, & Tracie L. Keesee, Deputizing Discrimination?, The Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity, May 3, 2010 (on file with authors)

While the first article is reproduced in full in an attachment to the brief, the second article is not and is listed only as "on file with authors."

Furthermore, the second article appears to be the only article that is missing from the "Other Authorities" that is either not referenced to a website address or to a published source (there are others listed and missing as well - but public sources are listed for them). 

Why is it not readily available?

I will leave that an open question and not address it in this blog entry, although it is an interesting question and one that warrants further attention.

In addition to the two articles listed in Mexico's brief with Chief Burbank as a co-author, there is a third article of interest listed in the attachment with Phillip Goff as a co-author (also missing, but at least referenced to a published source). 

Phillip Goff is also a co-author of the two citations with Chief Burbank. 

The combined list of authors of the three articles: 

Chris Burbank
Phillip Atiba Goff
Tracie L. Keesee
Liana Maris Epstein

What ties these four individuals together? 

The missing article, with no available link or published source, is the only one of the three that mentions the "Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity" in the citation.

The article, however, also has this notation at the bottom:

"Chris Burbank is the Chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department in Salt Lake City, Utah. Phillip Atiba Goff is the co-founder and executive director of research for the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity, and Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA. Tracie L. Keesee is the co-founder and executive director of operation for the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity, and Division Chief of Research, Training, and Technology of the Denver Police Department" [emphasis in original]

Goff and Keesee are listed with associations to the consortium.  What about the other two of our group of four?  Are Burbank and Epstein also associated with this consortium?

At the consortium's website, on their "People" page (, we find that Chief Burbank is closely associated with the consortium and is listed as one of four police chiefs on their "Chiefs Advisory Board."

Liana Maris Epstein is also listed on this page as an emerging scholar.

All four authors, therefore, are closely associated with the consortium.

Chief Burbank, it seems, has been associated with this consortium for quite some time.

From the consortium's "About the CPLE" (, the following:

"In November, 2008, following in the steps of Dr. Eberhardt’s Policing Racial Bias initiative, Dr. Goff and Division Chief Keesee traveled to the Major Cities Chiefs conference in San Diego, California to invite interested departments to participate in the initiative– promoting researcher and law enforcement collaborations with the goal of tackling issues at the heart of both groups’ interests. Their enthusiasm for this new paradigm was contagious. Chiefs of police and sheriffs in departments in: Denver, Chicago, Edmonton, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles County, Milwaukee, Nashville, Newark, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle, Toronto, Virginia Beach were eager to become part of this new wave of research and policing."

The consortium itself appears to have been formally organized in early 2009 - although elsewhere on the site, it says it was organized in July of 2008 (see at the bottom of the page for the item posted February 17, 2009: "Welcome").

If you search for "Burbank" in the website search engine, you come to a page that lists more information about Burbank's relationship to the consortium (  Scroll down and you will come to an entry dated February 14, 2009 and which lists him as being on the Chiefs Advisory Board as of that date. 

Other interesting dates for Chief Burbank from the page:

June 8, 2009:  The consortium thanks Chief Burbank for his support for equity issues in law enforcement.

July 27, 2009:   The consortium states: 

"The CPLE has just completed Wave 1 of data collection of residents of Salt Lake City, UT and officers with the SLCPD. We were aided by a great team of CPLE-trained researchers in Salt Lake City and the integral support of Chief Burbank."

September 26, 2009:  The consortium tells us:

"On September 23, the CPLE briefed congressional staff in Washington D.C. on the subject of biased policing.  Dr. Goff, co-founder and executive director of research for the CPLE, Dr. Keesee, co-founder and executive director of operations for the CPLE, Chief Burbank of the Salt Lake City Police..."

May 18, 2010:  According to the consortium:

"Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, Executive Director of Research, was invited to testify as a witness at the House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Racial Profiling and the Use of Suspect Classifications in Law Enforcement Policy.  Chief Christopher Burbank, a CPLE Chief and the Chief of Police of the Salt Lake City Police Department, was also invited to testify."

June 3, 2010:  The consortium reports about hate mail received by Chief Burbank: 

"Pat Reavy recently wrote an article for the Deseret News about the backlash that Chief Burbank, the chief of a CPLE partner police department, is experiencing because of his recent trip to Washington along with other chiefs to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and express their concerns about the new Airzona [sic] immigration policy..."

June 7, 2010:  The consortium describes the brief article that appears at and tells us that it covers research that was recently completed about policing in Salt Lake City:

"The op-ed outlines the recent research conducted by the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity in Salt Lake City assessing whether or not cross deputization creates harmful effects on policing.  The research showed that cross deputization will decrease trust in law enforcement and decrease the reporting of crime - consequences that negatively affect policing making it difficult to effectively keep people safe."

The research talked about in the article, that appeared at (with Burbank as a co-author), is most likely the same research that is described in the missing article referenced in the amicus curiae brief for Mexico (the article not reproduced in the attachments for "Other Authorities" of the brief with Chief Burbank as a co-author).

So far, we have the following points:

1.  Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank is one of the co-authors of this study:

Phillip Atiba Goff, Liana Maris Epstein, Chris Burbank, & Tracie L. Keesee, Deputizing
Discrimination?, The Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity, May 3, 2010

2.  Chief Burbank has had a close relationship with the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity from sometime in 2008 and probably a more formal relationship as a member of the Chiefs Advisory Board since early 2009.

A third element is now needed to see the relevance of the missing study in the amicus curiae brief. 

In a story at (5/27/10 - "Study shows Latino crime rate proportional to population," at:, the mysterious study is talked about.  Here's how begins the story:

"Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank is armed with a new study to support his stance in the immigration debate. But critics think the study is flawed."

The article also includes this:

"Burbank commissioned the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity to see if data and public perception supported his opinion and to analyze the effects of SB81."

Burbank commissioned the study?  To see if it supported his opinion? 

The three points now are connected like dots to form a relationship:

Salt Lake City Police Chief Burbank commissioned a study that just happens to end up supporting his viewpoint on certain immigration issues.

Chef Burbank's study just happens to be of his own department and the community his department serves.

He commissioned it from an organization that he has strong ties with, including perhaps serving on their Chiefs Advisory Board at the time he commissioned the study.

He is also a co-author of the report.

This is a major problem for the study. 

The problem is this:  whether or not the study was designed to produce a certain point of view, it has the appearance of being compromised through bias, whether intentional or unintentional, because of the strong relationship between Chief Burbank and the consortium that produced the study.   

The conclusions of the study, that Chief Burbank and the consortium seem to want people to accept uncritically, are what are generally talked about in the public domain. 

The nuts-and-bolts of the study itself, however, seem to be far less known or talked about than the conclusions.  The key for judging the validity of the conclusions lies in a careful reading of the study and analyzing whether or not the mechanics of the study justify the conclusions made or their use in the public domain to support Chief Burbank's immigration positions. 

For an example of how the study's conclusions are used, we may turn to Chief Burbank's own "Declaration" in support of the lawsuit against HB 497, submitted with the original filing against the law:

"A recent study conducted by the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity (CPLE) in Salt Lake City showed that people across the board, regardless of immigration status, race, ethnicity or national background, are significantly less likely to report crimes if they feel officers are engaged in immigration enforcement, interjecting bias into our policing actions.  I have received numerous anecdotal reports of individuals who have fallen victim to a crime and have failed to report these incidents because of the rhetoric surrounding proposed immigration laws."

Chief Burbank's "Declaration" to the initial suit against HB 497 is available at:

The political uses to which Burbank and the consortium's research have been put seem to demand a careful examination of the study itself. 

Bias in the research process, at any level or in any form, is one area that should be considered.

Chief Burbank's strong ties to the consortium that produced the study (of his own department and city) make this area of concern a significant one - especially given that the research just happens to confirm his own positions and finds its place within political and legal battles surrounding this issue.

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