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Backing the badge

August 11, 2001

Ryan Carter

CIVIC CENTER -- In a letter to the Leader, the Burbank Police

Officer's Assn. has defended the actions of an officer, who allegedly

shot a local family's pet dog, before a Burbank Police Department

internal review panel has looked into the incident to see if it was

within department policy.

The association's stance comes on the heels of Burbank Police Officer

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Anthony Valento's alleged shooting of Whoopie, a black Labrador

retriever, on the evening of July 15 when Valento was responding to a

report of a domestic disturbance in the 2700 block of Wyoming Avenue.

The dog, which had a tooth knocked out and suffered a shattered leg

bone, is recovering.

In an Aug. 7 letter to the Leader, association President Darin Ryburn

wrote, "The animal was shot only after it presented a clear threat to the

officer's safety and his primary responsibility to respond to the

possible domestic violence incident at that location."

Burbank Police Det. Frank Turner, vice president of the association,

said in a telephone interview Wednesday, "There is evidence to support

our officer's position. We will back our officer until we hear

otherwise."

Angela Gualtiere, one of Whoopie's owners, said she is not surprised

at the association's stance.

"You're looking at a fraternity [of officers] that are basically

backing each other up," she said.

A review board has yet to look into the matter.

On Aug. 16, a four-member group of officers, including a captain and

at least one officer of Valento's rank, will examine the alleged shooting

in an internal hearing to see if it was within the bounds of the police

department's policy. The panel will talk to Valento, 30, who is on duty

at the department.

"It's an educational process for us," said Burbank Police Capt. Gordon

A. Bowers, who oversees the department's Special Operations Unit, and who

will lead the panel and write a report on its findings.

But Bowers stressed the conclusions would remain internal.

"This is not part of a criminal investigation," he said, adding that

any disciplinary action or change in policy on the discharging of a

firearm would be determined by Burbank Police Chief Thomas Hoefel.

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