May 16, 2021
FREEHOLD – A 19-year veteran police officer of the Long Branch Police Department has been suspended without pay after he was arrested and charged today with various offenses related to manufacturing and maintaining a methamphetamine laboratory at his home, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Christopher Walls, 50, of West End Avenue in the city, is charged with first degree maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) production facility, second degree possession of a firearm during the course of a CDS offense, second degree risking widespread injury, second degree endangering the welfare of a child, third degree manufacturing CDS (methamphetamine), and third degree possession of CDS (methamphetamine).
“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.
After learning of the details involving Walls, Acting Long Branch Police Chief Frank Rizzuto immediately suspended him without pay.
“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,” Acting Chief Rizzuto said.
Long Branch police were called to Walls’ home on the 300 block of West End Avenue at about 10:36 p.m. last night for a domestic disturbance. While officers were on scene, another resident in the home alleged Walls was involved in suspicious narcotics activity. The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Hazmat Unit responded to the 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. The NJSP Hazmat Unit confirmed that Walls was in possession of all ingredients necessary to manufacture methamphetamine and found methamphetamine residue in chemistry-related glassware on site. A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility and Narcotics Units and the Long Branch Police Department revealed that Walls had been in possession of books related to making methamphetamine, explosives, and poison.
Additionally, a large open and unsecured gun safe was in the home which was accessible to a child living in the residence. Inside the gun safe were two long guns, four handguns, eight high-capacity magazines, and a large quantity of ammunition.
If convicted of Maintaining or Operating a CDS Production Facility, Walls faces a sentence of up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison.
If convicted of any of the second degree charges, Walls faces up to 10 years in state prison. The third degree offenses carry a potential sentence of three to five years in state prison.
Walls was lodged at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution and is pending a detention hearing. He has been suspended from his position as a Long Branch Police Officer.
Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to contact Detective Brian Hammarstrom of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160, extension 6413.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
Following is a statement issued by Long Branch Mayor John Pallone on Monday, June 17, 2021:
Once notified of the arrest of Long Branch Police Officer Christopher Walls, our Director of Public Safety Domingos Saldida immediately suspended Walls without pay.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting the criminal investigation into this matter and all questions related to it should be referred to that agency.
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.