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Embattled Connecticut police chief retires

EAST HAVEN, Conn. -- The chief of a police department roiled by a Latino abuse scandal announced his retirement yesterday, ending a 14-year tenure marked by several episodes of friction with minorities.

Leonard Gallo, chief of the East Haven department, has been reproached by federal civil rights investigators for creating a hostile environment for witnesses, and his lawyer said he could face charges in the same probe that led to last week's arrests of four officers.

Gallo, 64, was suspended as police chief in April 2010 after the FBI began the criminal investigation, but he was reinstated in November after his friend, Joseph Maturo Jr., became mayor. That decision has been called into question by officials including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Maturo praised Gallo as a devoted public servant. "His decision to retire at this time is a selfless act, designed to assist in the healing process," Maturo said.

The four officers, all on paid administrative leave, are accused of waging a campaign against Latino residents that included beatings, false arrests and harassment of those who threatened to report misconduct. They were arrested Jan. 24 by the FBI and face charges including deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice; all of them have pleaded not guilty.

Maturo is also facing heavy criticism for saying last week he "might have tacos" as a way to do something for the Latino community following the arrests.

Although the mayor apologized later, angered Latino advocates sent a mountain of 500 tacos to Town Hall the next day to draw a spotlight to what was criticized as ineptness, racism or some combination of the two.

Frederick Brow, chairman of the town's police commission, said he believes Gallo should not be allowed to retire. The commission is to vote tonight on whether to recommend Gallo be fired.

Brow estimated that in retirement, Gallo would receive a severance lump sum of $130,000 to $150,000, plus an annual pension of $27,000 to $28,000. Brow said Gallo should not be rewarded for his conduct. With Reuters

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