The police chief of a Connecticut town whose police officers are under federal investigation for discriminating against Latinos has resigned, the Hartford Courant is reporting.
The newspaper said East Haven Police Chief Len Gallo, the center of a widening FBI probe looking into police harassment of Latinos, resigned Friday.
It's been a general breakdown in control in that department for quite a while and it's time for Gallo to be terminated.
- Frederick Brow, Police Commission chairman of East Haven
The expected announcement comes hours after the Police Commission chairman of East Haven said Gallo should be fired for what he called a "breakdown in control" of the police department.
"It's been a general breakdown in control in that department for quite a while and it's time for Gallo to be terminated," Frederick Brow said.
Gallo’s attorney said his retirement will take effect on Feb. 10. A news conference on the retirement is planned for later Monday.
Gallo had been suspended as chief in April 2010 after the FBI launched the criminal investigation, but he was reinstated to the post in November after his friend Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. – who has come under fire recently for comments he made about Latinos – took office.
The FBI arrested four officers last week for an alleged campaign of harassment against Latinos, including assaults and intimidation. The officers have pleaded not guilty.
Gallo apparently has been referred to as an unnamed co-conspirator in the federal probe, accused of blocking efforts by the police commission to investigate misconduct. His attorney has denied the allegations.
The case adds to a history of friction between police and minorities in East Haven, an increasingly diverse community of 28,000 people that was nearly all white a generation ago. A separate civil rights investigation released last month found a deep-rooted pattern of discriminatory policing, and the town is under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department to make reforms.
For the police department, a more immediate concern is the prospect of more arrests. The Connecticut governor's liaison on criminal justice policy, Mike Lawlor, said the state is prepared to step in and bolster the East Haven police department if necessary.
"State police are continuing to monitor the possibility that a significant number of police officers will be indicted," he said. "It seems like that is going to happen."
The Hispanic community grew to 10 percent of the town's population by 2010 as immigrants from Ecuador and Mexico, including many who had lived across the town line in New Haven, moved here for the peaceful, small-town setting. Many left amid a rise in profiling allegations, and while Latino businesses are now bouncing back, some say police are still widely feared.
Mario Marin, who testified before the grand jury in Bridgeport, said he knows of many who have refused to testify and even moved out of the state to avoid the police.
Maturo Jr., the mayor, says he has taken steps toward reform including the appointment of a new police advisory committee and the publishing of civilian complaint forms in both English and Spanish. His efforts toward healing the rift were set back, however, by his poorly received quip to a television reporter last week that he might "eat tacos" as a way of doing something for the Hispanic community. He has apologized.
For the police department, a more immediate concern is the prospect of more arrests.
The Connecticut governor's liaison on criminal justice policy, Mike Lawlor, said the state is prepared to step in and bolster the East Haven police department if necessary.
More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Maturo to replace Gallo. The petition was started by Reform Immigration for America, the same group that sent hundreds of tacos to Maturo's office to protest his remark.
State Rep. Andres Ayala Jr., D-Bridgeport, said he and members of the state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission met with Maturo on Monday morning, but he declined to elaborate. Ayala and commission members are calling for the resignations of Maturo and Gallo.
"I think it's the mayor's responsibility that the police department represent everyone in the community," Ayala said.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.