Police union president 'disappointed' by decision not to reinstate fired officer

The Burbank police union president was “disappointed” in the Burbank city manager’s decision not to reinstate a fired police officer after an arbitrator recommended he do so, adding that the move was bad for employee morale, according to a statement released Tuesday on behalf of the union’s board of directors.

Last month, Burbank City Manager Mark Scott declined to return former Burbank Police Det. Mike Reyes to his position with the police department.

His decision didn’t sit well with Burbank Police Officers Assn. President Claudio Losacco, who said the decision would have a negative impact on morale given that an independent arbitrator made an advisory ruling that the former officer should get his job back.

“The employees of the Burbank Police Department need to know that a fair and impartial process exists to review administrative actions,” Losacco said in a statement, adding that the arbitration process is a “nonbiased review of evidence” intended to afford an accused officer the opportunity for due process.

“Any decision rendered by the city manager that is contrary to a neutral third party's ruling, after having heard all the relevant facts, has a very negative impact on the morale of our officers since they rely on the arbitration system to be applied in a fair and impartial manner,” Losacco added.

Reyes, who joined the Burbank Police Department in 2000 after five years with the Los Angeles Police Department, was fired in June of 2010 after city officials accused him of failing to disclose a use-of-force complaint reported to him by a robbery suspect tied to the 2007 Porto’s Bakery robbery, and of subsequently lying to investigators a year and a half later to cover up the alleged misconduct.

Arbitrator Michael Prihar said Reyes’ testimony — which he gave 18 months after the alleged misconduct — was genuine and credible, and he recommended that the former detective be reinstated, as well as recover any loss of income or benefits since his termination.

But after reviewing the case, Scott declined to reinstate Reyes, citing in his decision that he did not find Reyes to be credible.

Scott wrote that Reyes “chose to maintain silence (i.e., lack of recollection) thereby covering up allegations of unnecessary force by another officer,” according to his six-page decision, which was obtained by the Burbank Leader.

Scott declined to comment on the union president’s statement, other than to say he holds the police department “in very high regard.”

An arbitrator in October also questioned the firing of former officer Chris Canales, who is the third officer fired in connection with the Porto’s investigation whose arbitration hearing has concluded. Scott has not yet made a decision on whether to uphold Canales’ termination.

Five other cases involving dismissals linked to the Porto’s incident remain pending.


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


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