Brea Police Chief Don L. Forkus returned to duty Tuesday, about a year after suffering from a work-related health condition that forced him to stay away.
Forkus said he acquired stress-induced asthma last September and the prescribed cure was to completely remove the stress, which meant quitting his $104,000-a-year job for awhile.
"My asthma was not brought on by environmental factors," he said. "It was brought on by stress and anxiety from work. A number of things were not going well here in the city from my perspective."
The 49-year-old chief declined to elaborate, but said he is glad to be back on the job.
"The symptoms are gone now," he said. "I'm feeling better than I have felt in years."
Forkus' first day back was filled with meetings regarding the past year's activities, programs and budget cuts that affected the Police Department. He said he was sorry to hear some jobs were eliminated and that training, association memberships and travel expenses were cut, but looks forward to reinstating programs that were placed on hold while he was gone.
"I'm going to get Brea involved again, especially in the Orange County Police Chiefs Assn., which has been working on developing a gang-prevention strategy that involves schools and government," Forkus said.
Capt. Larry Baker served as the acting police chief until January, when he retired and Capt. Jim Oman took over until Forkus returned. "We're glad (Forkus) is back," Oman said.
Forkus, who spent most of his paid time off reading, running and learning relaxation techniques, said he was ready to come back to work in February but the city did not allow him to until three doctors said he was ready. The third doctor gave his approval last week.