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Two captains, deputy chief get permanent roles

The decision 'was kind of a no-brainer,' says city manager.

October 13, 2012|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene@tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Burbank Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse this week announced that the deputy chief and two captains he recruited nearly three years ago to serve on a temporary basis are now permanent employees of the police force — angering the police union president who said the move passed over qualified internal candidates.

Deputy Chief Thomas Angel and captains Denis Cremins and Michael Albanese were brought on to assist LaChasse in his efforts to reform a police department beset with allegations of excessive use of force, cronyism, sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

LaChasse’s decision to hire the three permanently — a power he said he didn’t know he had until recently — came days after the Civil Service Board declined to renew the appointments of Angel and Albanese, despite having done so numerous times before.

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“We had a choice — either make them permanent, or let them go,” said City Manager Mike Flad. “It was kind of a no-brainer.”

With two members absent, the Civil Service Board voted 2-1 to let the appointments expire later this month.

Voting with the slim majority, Civil Service Board member Jacqueline Waltman said she was concerned the top cops were “just passing through” with a mind set that could hamper morale and stability in the department.

“My experience with temporary staff is that they make decisions knowing full well they don’t have to live with the consequences of those decisions,” she said.

But LaChasse said his team’s work at the department is not finished.

“We came here to deal with, really, a crisis situation,” LaChasse said. “We’re still in the midst of addressing the needs of the department.”

He cited a 2010 report by Dr. Larry Blum on the organizational culture of the department that revealed “mutual disrespect and distrust” among police personnel.

“This stuff doesn’t go away quickly,” LaChasse said.

Burbank Police Officers’ Assn. President Mark Armendariz was disappointed with the decision and felt LaChasse bypassed the civil service system in appointing his command staff.

“They never went through testing or a vetting process, other than the chief said these people should be there,” Armendariz said.

His colleagues, he argued, have spent their entire careers in Burbank working toward these promotions.

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