Buckingham Police Chief Mike Gallagher abruptly resigned Dec. 1 after seven years on the job.
He broke the news himself on the police department’s Facebook page the same day. The township did not announce his departure and it wasn’t mentioned at last month’s meeting of the board of supervisors.
Gallagher’s move comes two weeks before township attorneys are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to discuss a civil complaint that a former detective filed claiming police department sex discrimination, charges the township has denied.
According to court documents, the plaintiff — former police Detective Samantha Devery — and her attorneys will attend the Case Management Conference alongside the defendant — Buckingham Township — on the morning of Dec. 14.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Buckingham Supervisors Chairman Paul Calderaio was asked if Gallagher’s resignation had anything to do with Devery’s complaint.
“I can’t comment on the complaint,” Calderaio told the Herald. “We are moving forward toward finding the right police chief to continue our effective service, and are currently formulating plans for the search.”
Calderaio added that the chief was leaving, he assumed, “for other opportunities.” He also did not say exactly when he learned of the chief’s decision but wished Gallagher the best and called the separation “amicable.”
Until a new chief is named, Lt. William Moffett has assumed command of the department. The state police, county district attorney, and other authorities have been notified accordingly.
With his 33 years of service in Buckingham, Moffett stepping in resembles the last transition about eight years ago, when the 40-year service of former Chief Steve Daniels was succeeded by Lt. J.R. Landis, also an officer in the department for decades, while the search was conducted that produced Gallagher about a year later.
“While this is a completely different scenario than the last transition,” Calderaio continued, “what is similar is that we have in Lt. Moffett’s long-term service strong capability to provide effective interim leadership toward keeping Buckingham ranked safest in the state for a township its size.”
The complaint by Devery, who resigned from the department in August 2022, alleges workplace discrimination and that, under Gallagher, the department constituted “a hostile work environment because of her sex and pregnancy.” It cites numerous examples that the township, in a Sept. 15, 2023 response, flatly denies took place. The response was co-signed by township manager Dana Cozza and attorney Jonathan Long.
Reached on Monday, Devery’s attorney — Michael Murphy of Murphy Law Group in Philadelphia — declined to comment on the case. Cozza could not be reached for comment.
Without wishing to diminish the lawsuit’s claims and the township’s response to them, Calderaio suggested that the residents, his neighbors, want, more than anything, to have a safe place to live. And that he and his fellow supervisors are committed to keeping the police department strong, healthy and effective.