A veteran police officer in New Jersey has been arrested and accused of operating a meth lab in his home.
Officer Christopher Walls, who has been a member of the Long Branch Police Department for 19 years, was charged with producing, possessing and selling methamphetamine, according to a statement released Monday by the office of the Monmouth County prosecutor.
In addition, Walls has been suspended from his unit without pay pending an investigation, Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in the statement.
On Sunday evening, Long Branch police were called to Wall’s home after receiving reports of “a domestic disturbance,” the statement said. The responding officers had been informed of potential narcotics activity, and the New Jersey State Police’s hazmat unit was also called in.
Gramiccioni’s statement said the officers “located materials, chemicals and instruments consistent with a methamphetamine laboratory in both the basement of the residence and in a shed on the property.” In addition, Walls allegedly had paraphernalia relating to drug making, as well as explosives and poison. Walls was subsequently arrested.
The Long Branch police’s acting chief, Frank Rizzuto, commended the actions of the responding officers and condemned the drug manufacturing Walls has been accused of.
“The officers in our agency risk their lives daily to protect and serve our residents. It is disappointing beyond measure that one of our officers could have risked the safety of his family and neighbors by engaging in such dangerous conduct,” Rizzuto said in the prosecutor’s statement. “This officer’s actions do not reflect the moral compass of our officers or this agency.”
A subsequent statement from the office of Long Branch Mayor John Pallone confirmed on Facebook that in light of Walls’ arrest, the Long Branch Police Department will pursue his termination.
“Our Director of Public Safety Domingos Saldida immediately suspended Walls without pay,” Pallone said. “Based upon the facts known at this time, Director Saldida will be filing disciplinary charges seeking to terminate Officer Walls’ employment with the City of Long Branch Police Department.”
“The city has a no-tolerance policy for any illegal activity committed by police officers. They must be held to the highest standard,” Pallone added.
In his statement, Gramiccioni said, “Thanks to the swift action of our office, the Long Branch Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police, a very serious risk to public safety has been averted. The collaborative efforts of our agencies dismantled a very dangerous situation. It is particularly distressing that this hazard was caused by a sworn law enforcement officer.”
Gramiccioni said Walls is charged with maintenance and operation of a controlled dangerous substance production facility, possession of a firearm, child endangerment, possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine and risking widespread injury. Neither Walls nor his legal team have released a statement.