Police chief in investigation of anti-Latino bias is retiring
A suburban police chief whose officers were accused of harassing Latinos is stepping down, but the mayor who appointed him — and who fueled the scandal with a wisecrack about tacos — gave no indication Monday that he would bow to pressure to resign.
The departure of East Haven, Conn., Police Chief Leonard Gallo was the strongest sign yet that the charges dogging the department, which have led to embarrassing videos and a mention on “The Colbert Report,” could topple the city’s power structure more than two years after the federal Department of Justice began investigating it.
“The poison begins at the top more often than not when leaders of these towns take after immigrants,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes nationwide. With census figures predicting that non-Latino whites will lose their majority in the United States by 2050, Potok said there was an “enormous level of rage and resentment” in some towns with fast-growing immigrant communities, such as East Haven.
“What we see typically is politicians opening the way with really vile verbal attacks on Latinos, so it’s not too surprising that the police force falls in line behind those types of statements,” he said.
The East Haven investigation began in September 2009 after complaints that police were subjecting Latinos to unreasonable traffic stops and other detentions, targeting their places of business and at times roughing them up. Latinos, who 10 years ago comprised about 4% of the population, now make up 10% of the city’s 28,000 residents.
Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times