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In Wake of Federal Indictment of Four Officers, East Haven Police Chief Resigns

by Mahwish Khan on 01/31/2012 at 11:27am

new haven officeFallout from the federal investigation of the East Haven, Connecticut police force continues. Yesterday, the Police Chief, Leonard Gallo, resigned. East Haven Mayor Joseph “I might have Tacos” Maturo, Jr. accepted the resignation calling it a “selfless act”

Maturo told a Town Hall press conference packed with local, regional and national media that the decision, which Gallo informed him of on Friday, was “a selfless act designed to assist in the healing process” with the Latino community, some of whom police are accused of mistreating.

Gallo’s retirement provides “an opportunity for the town to move forward with the healing that is necessary given recent events, and most importantly an opportunity for the entire East Haven community to move forward as a unified group to embrace the changes that will follow,” Maturo said.

The New York Times provided reaction from activists and allies, including America’s Voice Board Chair Henry Fernandez, who are more than happy to see Gallo go: 

Chief Gallo “cultivated a racist and dishonest police force,” said the Rev. James Manship, a priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, whose efforts to document police behavior helped prompt the federal investigation.

Father Manship 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.”

Local and national immigration groups also had strong comments.

“This is a real victory for racial understanding and a clear indication of the power of our community,” said Henry Fernandez, a spokesman for Reform Immigration for America, an advocacy group. He said the mayor should seek strong representation from the Latino community on the search committee for a new chief.

Though Mr. Maturo said the search process would be transparent, Mr. Fernandez said, “we would go further and demand that the Latino community should be involved in the selection process and the U.S. Department of Justice should participate as well.”

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