The Burbank City Council took a dramatic and pivotal step this week toward cleaning up the infamous “police mess.” On Tuesday during the city council meeting, City Attorney, Amy Albano, reported out on discussions and actions taken during closed session. During the behind-closed-doors meeting before the city council meeting, Albano says the council members reviewed the latest development in the “William Taylor vs the City of Burbank” wrongful termination case.
A 25 year veteran of the force and ex-deputy police chief, William “Bill” Taylor was well-respected and considered to be a pillar of integrity and the “moral compass” of the BPD. Taylor filed a lawsuit against the city in September of 2009, alleging that he was demoted to captain and later fired for drawing attention to several serious incidents in the department, including discrimination against a group of minority officers.
In March of 2012, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury agreed with Taylor in a 9-3 decision and awarded him $1.3 million and more than $850,000 in legal fees and costs. A few weeks later, the city filed an appeal. Last month, a state appellate court handed Taylor another legal victory.
The three- judge panel “… ruled against the city on all of our grounds for appeal,” said Albano. Armed with this information, council members made an important decision .”The city council tonight unanimously voted to no longer pursue this matter, which means we will not be, um,going , any, forward with any further appeals… the city will be complying with the original judgement.” Albano reported. That award may have now grown to almost $3 million. Also, the city reportedly has spent nearly $2 million fighting the Taylor case.
An expensive and painful case will now be closed. The decision to pay-up and stop fighting this case should have been made sooner, saving the taxpayers a lot of money. However, this city council deserves kudos for stepping up to do the right thing, here and now. It shows the council is no longer in the mind set of “pretending” the city and its officials were blameless in the scandal and the subsequent discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and misconduct allegations and legal cases, which collectively became known as the “police mess.”
Also this week, Sergeant Chris Canales returned to the force. In 2010, Sgt. Canales was one of several officers fired in connection with allegations of misconduct during the investigation of the 2007 Porto’s Bakery robbery. After lengthy probes into the handling of that investigation, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department declined to file any charges. City Manager Mark Scott made the decision to reinstate Sgt. Canales, who has been fighting to get his job back.
There is more to be done to clean-up the “police mess.” Nevertheless, this city council is setting the right example and appears to be giving the proper direction to the city manager, city attorney, and staff in the clean-up efforts.