Burbank Police Sgt. Chris Canales, who was fired in June 2010, was back at work Monday, city officials said.
Drew Sugars, the city of Burbank’s public information officer, said Wednesday evening that Canales was back at the Burbank Police Department Monday, June 9th.
In 2010, Canales and nine other officers were terminated by Police Chief Scott LaChasse for misconduct allegations related to the 2007 Porto’s bakery robbery. The officers were terminated for allegedly using excessive force or otherwise acting improperly.
The reinstatement of Canales is significant, as he is the first officer to be hired after investigations into the robbery and the department by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among others. Canales is also the first to successfully appeal his termination through the city’s arbitration process.
City Manager Mark Scott makes the final decision on such cases.
Canales’ attorney, Bill Seki, who represented him as he appealed his termination, was not immediately available to discuss the matter.
In an email, Canales confirmed this week he was “vindicated and rehired by the Burbank Police Department.” He referred further questions to Seki.
The reason the arbitrator recommended Canales be reinstated was not immediately given.
LaChasse, who could not be reached for comment, was the interim police chief in 2010. He was taking over a department mired by the suicide of a sergeant, probes by the FBI and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., and the filing of several lawsuits by current and former officers whose claims include retaliatory firing and ethnic and sexual harassment.
Until recently, the FBI had kept a close eye on the department, looking into allegations of excessive use of force during the robbery.
LaChasse and a new command staff pushed for improved training and made other efforts to modernize and reform the department, including the creation of a mental health team. Burbank is among a handful of departments in Los Angeles County with such a team. The department has also made strides to be more transparent, posting arrest reports online, which had never been done. A new, standalone website for the department allows for tickets to be paid online and for a commendation or complaint to be filed against an officer, among other options.
But lawsuits continue to wind their way through the legal system. And other terminated officers’ appeals are now before the city manager who will decide if they will get their jobs back.