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A New Jersey police officer has been arrested on a variety of charges after his fellow officers discovered a methamphetamine lab in the basement of his home. They had been responding to a domestic disturbance at the time, authorities said this week.
Christopher Walls, 50, is facing six charges including first-degree maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced on Sunday. The 19-year veteran of the Long Branch Police Department was suspended without pay, the office said in a release.
“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.” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
On Saturday, Long Branch police were called to Walls’ home at around 10:30 p.m. for a domestic disturbance response. While the officers were at his home, another person living there alleged that Walls was involved in “suspicious narcotics activity,” according to prosecutors. A hazmat unit responded to the home and soon located materials, chemicals, and tools associated with a meth lab in the basement and in a shed on Walls’ property.
Investigators also found explosives and poison on the property, according to prosecutors, who said that they were discovered via a joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility and Narcotics Units and Long Branch police.
Also inside the home was an unsecured gun safe with two long guns, four handguns, eight high-capacity magazines, and a large quantity of ammunition, prosecutors said. The open case was accessible to a child living in the residence.
Acting Long Branch Police Chief Frank Rizzuto expressed his disappointment after suspending Walls without pay this week.
“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,” he said.
Walls faces second-degree possession of a firearm during the course of a controlled dangerous substance offense, second-degree risking widespread injury, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree manufacturing CDS (methamphetamine), and third-degree possession of controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine), according to the release.
If convicted of maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility, Walls faces a sentence of up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison, prosecutors said.
Walls is being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution pending a hearing. It was not immediately clear if he has retained a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
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