The New York Times by Peter Applebome - January 30, 2012
The chief of the embattled Police Department in East Haven, Conn., announced on Monday that he was retiring after the arrest of four officers last week on federal charges of harassing and intimidating members of minority groups. Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. said that the resignation of the police chief, Leonard Gallo, 64, would be effective Friday, and that a search would begin immediately as the department and the town sought to regain their footing. The officers were indicted following a blistering report in December by the Justice Department alleging racial profiling and deeply flawed police practices in East Haven, a suburb of New Haven. Chief Gallo was not charged with any crimes. But his lawyer, Jonathan J. Einhorn, and others familiar with the department said Chief Gallo had been cited as “Co-Conspirator 1,” identified in the indictment as part of a conspiracy to deprive Hispanics and other members of minority groups of their rights. Federal officials said further indictments were possible. Appearing at a news conference to announce the chief’s departure, Mr. Einhorn told reporters that the chief was not resigning under duress. And his retirement after 14 years as chief and 42 years in law enforcement should not in any way be construed as an admission of guilt, the lawyer said. “He is retiring from his position for one reason alone — that is his desire to not be a distracting element in East Haven’s efforts to rehabilitate its image both upon its citizens and the general public,” Mr. Einhorn said. Though he noted that Chief Gallo was named as a defendant in a civil suit involving the department’s practices as well as being cited as “Co-Conspirator 1” in the indictment, Mr. Einhorn insisted that Mr. Gallo would be vindicated on both issues. “Should he be charged in the federal criminal case, we will successfully defend against any such charges,” Mr. Einhorn said, adding that Chief Gallo “should not be arrested, and if arrested, he will be acquitted on any charges.” Chief Gallo’s resignation may not end the uncertainty about his future, however. Frederick Brow and James Krebs, who serve on the East Haven Board of Police Commissioners, which oversees the department, said Chief Gallo should be fired, rather than allowed to resign. Dismissal would reduce his termination package. “It’s like they’re rewarding him for these behaviors,” said Mr. Brow, the chairman of the board. Others were even more critical of the police chief. Chief Gallo “cultivated a racist and dishonest police force,” said the Rev. James Manship, a priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, whose attempts to document police behavior helped prompt the federal investigation. He called for the local prosecutor, Michael Dearington, to review the convictions of people who had been arrested by the four indicted officers, and to seek to vacate those convictions that were “tainted by racial bias or other unconstitutional conduct.” Thomas MacMillan contributed reporting from East Haven, Conn.