Embattled East Haven, Conn., Police Chief To Retire


The Connecticut police chief accused of tyrannizing Latinos is retiring at the end of the week. Four East Haven officers were arrested Friday by the FBI. They're accused of waging a campaign against Latino residents that included beatings and false arrests. Chief Leonard Gallo is accused of creating a hostile environment for witnesses who cooperated with the investigation.

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The police chief in the embattled town of East Haven, Connecticut, is retiring. That was the announcement today from the town's mayor. The police chief is stepping down amidst a barrage of criticism for the way he handled allegations of racial profiling, excessive force, harassment and intimidation of Latinos in that community.

Diane Orson, of member station WNPR, has our story.

DIANE ORSON, BYLINE: Speaking in Town Hall on Main Street, East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. praised police chief Leonard Gallo, and called his retirement a selfless act designed to start a healing process.

MAYOR JOSEPH MATURO: Chief Gallo has always been an unwavering supporter of the town of East Haven. He has been a devoted public servant, and performed admirably in both his personal and professional life.

ORSON: Gallo was named as co-conspirator in an a grand jury indictment that charges four East Haven police officers with violating the civil rights of Latinos in the community. The FBI details more than 30 instances of abuse, including unreasonable search and seizures, raids on Latino businesses, and beatings of Latinos taken into custody. The officers have pleaded not guilty. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Gallo was not named in the grand jury indictment, although his lawyer has said Gallo is considered an unindicted co-conspirator. Accusasions against Gallo are in a civil complaint; he has not been accused of any crimes.]

Chief Gallo had been placed on paid administrative leave in April 2010 by the previous mayor, when the FBI began its criminal investigation. But he was re-instated when Mayor Maturo was elected last November.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy spoke to reporters today.

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY: One could reasonably question why he was reinstated. But, you know, this community has a lot of work to do. And it has a lot of work to do to reach out to its constituents.

ORSON: Gallo faces civil charges and possible criminal charges. Jonathan Einhorn is his attorney.

JONATHAN EINHORN: Chief Gallo has never engaged in, participated in, or condoned any racial profiling of any nature whatsoever.

ORSON: At the Oasis Restaurant in East Haven, resident Ralf Gargano says it's time for Gallo to go.

RALPH GARGANO: I believe it's a step in the right direction for our town. Ninety-nine percent of the police department are good people. And it's sad, very sad - for what the town is going through.

ORSON: The officers' arrests followed a federal investigation that found a deeply rooted pattern of discriminatory policing in East Haven. Then last week, East Haven's mayor was roundly criticized for saying that he might have tacos as a way of doing something to help Latinos in the wake of the arrests; he later apologized. The federal investigation is ongoing.

For NPR News, I'm Diane Orson in New Haven.

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Correction Feb. 1, 2012

We incorrectly reported that East Haven Police Chief Leonard Gallo had been named as a co-conspirator in an indictment against four police officers in East Haven, Conn. Gallo was not named in the indictment, although his lawyer has said that he is considered an unindicted co-conspirator. The story also stated that Gallo was accused of tyrannizing Latinos and creating a hostile environment for witnesses. The story should have made clear that such accusations are in a civil complaint and that Gallo has not been accused of any crimes.



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