The president of the Burbank police officers union was placed on administrative leave this week, multiple sources confirmed Friday.
The sources, which include people both inside and outside the department, declined to be identified, citing the sensitive nature of the issue.
News that police Officer Mark Armendariz had been placed on leave comes as a number of reforms are starting to take place at the department following investigations into alleged officer misconduct tied to the Porto’s robbery investigation, which cost 10 sworn personnel their jobs.
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse declined to confirm the identity of the latest officer to be put on leave or comment on the nature of the investigation, citing personnel privacy laws.
“Any time there’s any type of investigation that is of a serious nature, you have the ability to put a person on administrative leave, which includes full pay and benefits,” LaChasse said, adding that “nothing’s concluded yet.”
“The whole reason for [privacy] protection is that things can change,” LaChasse added.
City Atty. Amy Albano also declined to comment on or confirm any details on the matter.
But generally speaking, any type of employment action taken against a public employee must “follow all the statutory and legal rules concerning due process,” she said.
“When it’s a personnel matter, we’re really not at liberty to talk about anything,” she said.
Armendariz could not immediately be reached Friday. Claudio Losacco, vice president of the police union, declined comment on the fact Armendariz had been placed on leave, also citing personnel privacy laws.
Armendariz’s leave came on the same week LaChasse was sworn in as the city’s permanent police chief, a position he was appointed to in April.
The appointment came as a surprise to Armendariz, who at the time called the move “disappointing” given that city officials didn’t continue the police chief recruitment process that began last fall.
The search for a top cop was put on hold last September after former City Manager Mike Flad’s departure.
Armendariz is the latest officer to be placed on leave in a department that in recent years has been plagued by allegations of excessive force and discrimination, and remains the subject of a federal grand jury investigation.
All but one of the employees fired three years ago in connection with the Porto’s robbery investigation appealed their terminations — the majority of which remain pending.
LaChasse at the time told the Police Commission that he didn’t expect any other personnel decisions in the near future.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also conducted investigations into the excessive force allegations involving three of the fired officers and declined to file criminal charges, citing insufficient evidence and witness credibility issues.