It is time for the town to fish or cut bait in the case of Officer Christopher Gallo.
The veteran police officer has been on administrative leave but collecting a town paycheck since June of 2021. Since that date, Marblehead taxpayers have been footing the bill to the tune of almost $220,000.
Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer conducted a fact-finding hearing in May at which Police Chief Dennis King recommended that Gallo be fired for conduct unbecoming an officer and dereliction of duty. The charges stem from 2021 after an anonymous whistleblower provided photos of Gallo’s cruiser parked outside his home when he was supposed to be on patrol. Allegedly, he spent more than 100 hours at home while on duty during a four-month period. There were also allegations stemming from an incident involving his then-girlfriend, her children and her dog. There was an investigation, but no charges followed.
It is not our intention to retry the Gallo case in this editorial, but to focus on the time and expense this has cost the town. Our news pages have been full of the “he said, they said.” Gallo says he just wants to clear his name.
After the fact-finding hearing in May, Kezer gave attorneys in the case until June 30 to submit closing briefs. He then extended the deadline to July 31 after counsel for both sides requested more time. Another extension was granted July 31 with the new deadline Sept. 8.
With the payroll meter still running, Kezer says it will take him 30 more days to make his recommendation to the Select Board, which as the appointing authority can either fire Officer Gallo or put him back in his cruiser.
In fairness to Administrator Kezer, this situation was dumped in his lap when he took over the corner office in June of 2022. In our opinion, the matter should have been decided long before he came to town, and the can should not have been kicked down the road.
We are all for laws and regulations that protect our public employees from undue political pressure. And in matters such as this, we believe in dotting all the “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s.”
But enough is enough.
The Current Editorial Board
The members of the Current’s editorial board are Ed Bell, who serves as chairman, and Virginia Buckingham, both members of the Current’s board of directors; Kris Olson and Will Dowd, members of the Current’s editorial staff; and Robert Peck and Joseph P. Kahn. Peck is an attorney, former chairman of Marblehead’s Finance Committee and a former Select Board member. Kahn is a retired Boston Globe journalist.