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Fired Burbank officer to get job back

A former Burbank police sergeant fired four years ago in connection with alleged misconduct during the Porto's robbery investigation will be reinstated, his lawyer said, marking an unprecedented move in the multiyear saga that cost 10 officers their jobs.

Chris Canales, a former Los Angeles police officer who joined the Burbank force in 2000, will likely return to work this month, according to attorney Bill Seki.

"That's what our end game was and we achieved it," Seki said, adding that while the process was at times long and arduous, Canales is excited to return to work. "I can see he's extremely grateful, he's going back with an extremely positive attitude."

City Manager Mark Scott said Tuesday that a formal decision had not been made and declined to comment further. "I know there are discussions, but nothing to report yet," he said in an email, later adding over the phone, "I'm very hopeful this is nearing an end."

With the reinstatement, Canales will receive four years of back pay and benefits, since he was fired in June of 2010, Seki said. Sergeants earn a base pay of between $81,948 and $110,213 annually. In 2009, Canales' last full year with the department, the sergeant earned a gross income of $154,507.

Ten officers were fired in the internal probe, with city officials claiming the former officers used excessive force during the investigation of the 2007 Porto's robbery or lied to supervisors about what they saw or did.

But last fall, an arbitrator ruled in an advisory decision that Canales should not have been fired, and should get his job back.

A number of the fired officers are in different stages of legal proceedings seeking reinstatement, though Canales is the first to be successful.

Of the cases that have concluded, arbitrators sided with the officer four times — Canales, as well as former Dets. Mike Reyes, Angelo Dahlia and Pete Allen. Scott declined to reinstate Reyes despite the ruling, and has not made a decision regarding Dahlia and Allen.

Former Officer Elfego Rodriguez continues to fight his firing in court after an arbitrator sided with the city.

Claudio Losacco, president of the Burbank Police Officers' Assn., was pleased with the news about Canales.

"We're happy that the process has worked for Chris — we wish it would've happened in a much more timely fashion," Losacco said Monday, adding that several other cases are still in limbo. "We hope that the city manager will follow the arbitrator's ruling in the other matters as well."

The move to rehire Canales came just weeks after Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse announced that federal officials declined to file criminal charges against any current or former Burbank officers after a years-long investigation into allegations of excessive force and civil rights violations.

The FBI probe began in 2009 after allegations of brutality by officers during the investigation of a 2007 takeover robbery at Porto's.

In the Porto's robbery case, six suspects entered the bakery after hours and bound the hands of 13 employees, struck one with a handgun and kicked another before forcing an assistant manager to go upstairs to retrieve money from the safes.

-- Follow Alene on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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