At a combative disciplinary hearing, Marblehead Police Officer Chris Gallo, who has been suspended with pay since June 2021, denied multiple misconduct allegations after Police Chief Dennis King recommended he be fired. A resolution to the case is expected in September.
Gallo is accused of spending more than 100 hours at home while on duty over a four-month period and of violating police policies involving a domestic disturbance at his home.
In the first case, the state’s Office of Inspector General received photos from an anonymous citizen in 2021 showing Gallo’s cruiser parked outside his home for hours during his shifts, which began at midnight. Gallo admits to spending some time at home (to use the bathroom, grab a snack or do online training), but claims the photos were fabricated by former Marblehead police officer Tim Tufts. Tufts resigned after Gallo reported him for allegedly carving a swastika into a car.
“This isn’t a fact-finding hearing,” Gallo complained. “The photos aren’t real, okay? That is non-corroborated evidence.
“Throw the photos out,” he added, raising his voice.
In a second case, police were called to Gallo’s home in July 2021 when his then-girlfriend reported that he was abusing her, her children and her dog. Gallo was never charged, but King did launch an investigation into the incident because the responding officers said alcohol was involved and children were on the scene. Gallo, his girlfriend and their children had spent the day boating.
King said the investigation showed Gallo enabled his girlfriend, who was a person with alcoholism, by not stopping her from drinking that day and even getting her a beer a restaurant.
Gallo argued that it is impossible to stop such a person from drinking.
“I cared about this girl. I didn’t enable her. Saying anything else is friggin’ dirty,” he said.
King determined that Gallo exhibited “conduct unbecoming an officer” and accused him of dereliction of duty and falsifying records. King also said Gallo violated policies relating to professional image, off-duty use of alcohol and cooperating with investigations.
“Officer Gallo’s actions put the police department in a light that was unfavorable and had negative consequences on public trust,” King said. “The number of times that the cruiser was observed at his residence showed he was not devoted to duty.”
Relating to the domestic incident, King said, “We have a violent domestic call that resulted in neglect of the children involved. The decisions by Officer Gallo affect the reputation of the department. The decisions throughout that day make me question his fitness to be an officer.”
Through a public records request, the Current learned that Gallo had 11 “sustained” complaints against him, more than any other Marblehead officer. In addition to seven suspensions, Gallo has received four reprimands during his 22-plus year career on the Marblehead force.
Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer oversaw the hearing and asked attorneys for Gallo and the town of Marblehead to submit closing briefs by June 30. He will release his recommendation within 30 days from there and speculated that the Select Board may want to schedule a special meeting to address this case, probably in September.
After the hearing, the Current asked Gallo what he hopes will happen next.
“The problem is I’m too young to retire,” he said.
Gallo said he is working, running heavy equipment.
“I love, love, love what I’m doing now, and the money is good,” he said.
It is tough to live in town with the accusations against him, he said.
“I live, work and socialize here. It’s horrible… I just want to clear my name.”
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.