A nearly 20-year veteran of the Long Branch Police Department was arrested Sunday on allegations that he operated a methamphetamine lab from his home.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced the charges against Christopher Walls in a statement, including first-degree maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility, second-degree possession of a firearm, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree manufacturing of a controlled dangerous substance (meth), and third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (meth).
The prosecutor's office announced Walls was suspended without pay from the Long Brach Police Department following the arrest. He had been with the department for 19 years.
According to the statement, Long Branch Police officers responded to a call about a domestic disturbance at 10:36 p.m. Saturday at Walls' home on West End Avenue. A resident inside the home reportedly told officers they believed Walls was "involved in suspicious narcotics activity."
Investigators from the New Jersey State Police Hazmat Unit arrived on scene and "located materials, chemicals and instruments consistent with a methamphetamine laboratory in both the basement of the residence and in a shed on the property."
They determined Walls, 50, had the ingredients to make methamphetamine and also found residue "in chemistry-related glassware on site." Further investigation allegedly revealed the officer owned "books related to making methamphetamine, explosives, and poison."
In terms of the weapons charges, officers reportedly found a "large open and unsecured gun safe" at his home that was accessible to a child living in the residence. Officers discovered two long guns, four handguns, eight high-capacity magazines, and a large quantity of ammunition.
Acting Long Branch Police Chief Frank Rizzuto said, "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. This officer’s actions do not reflect the moral compass of our officers or this agency."
Long Brach Mayor John Pallone wrote in a statement that the city's Director of Public Safety Domingos Saldida "will be filing disciplinary charges seeking to terminate Officer Walls' employment with the City of Long Branch Police Department."
Pallone added, "The city has a no tolerance policy for any illegal activity committed by police officers. They must be held to the highest standard."