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Nobody's talking about FunFestival incident

Allegations about chief, supervisor expected to be focus of closed session meeting

August 18, 2010 | 07:46 AM
Geneva — Apparently, you had to be there.

Rumor has it that an incident occurred Saturday, Aug. 7, at the third annual Summer FunFestival between Ed Gritzner, the town's police chief, and a Town Board supervisor.

But town officials aren't saying much about it.

Initially, Geneva Town Chairman Dan Lauderdale called it an "alleged" incident during a brief telephone interview Aug. 12. He said the board will have a closed session meeting about it.

On Friday, Supervisor Larry Kulik said this meeting was expected to take place this week. However, as of Tuesday at 1 p.m., no meetings were posted on the town of Geneva's website.

However, on Aug. 12, Lauderdale asked the Regional News not to investigate the incident and not to call other Town Board members.

"Let us do the job of investigation," Lauderdale said.

During a separate Aug. 12 telephone interview, Supervisor Keith Millard said he wouldn't comment on whether he and Gritzner were involved in an incident Aug. 7 or if attorneys are involved in the situation now.

"There were no arrests," Millard said.

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Attempts to reach Gritzner, Supervisor Steve Kukla and Town Attorney Steve Harvey were unsuccessful by press time.

Kulik said he was out of the state when the FunFestival occurred.

Supervisor Bob Kamps, the new pastor at Como Community Church, said he was busy with a church function and didn't attend the FunFestival.

Kamps said he heard about the incident Aug. 9, shortly after the Geneva Town Board meeting. He said someone told him the incident involved the police chief and a town supervisor. However, Kamps said he didn't know who the supervisor was.

The only public account so far is what's been posted in response to a blog on the Regional News website titled "Town of Geneva Festival."

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One writer posted a comment asking the Regional News to investigate the incident. The writer stated he or she heard "the police chief got drunk at the FunFestival and had an altercation with one of the town supervisors."

There have been other allegations against Gritzner on the website involving his conduct at local establishments. However, some of the comments to the blog defend Gritzner as being a "good man."

Earlier this year, there was an incident involving Gritzner and a town resident. Gritzner used profanity and "threatening conduct" toward the resident over the telephone.

That's what led to his one-day, with-pay suspension, according to the order signed March 16 by the Geneva Town Police Commission.

This document states Gritzner "engaged in actions unbecoming of an officer by virtue of him using profanity and engaging in threatening conduct towards a citizen" after this person "had terminated Chief Gritzner's wife's employment."

On April 8, Lauderdale said a local business owner complained to him about Gritzner in October 2009. He said Gritzner called the business owner about five times in one day. Lauderdale said one of the calls "was threatening, but it was not a threat to do bodily harm."

He said this was the first time any punitive action had been taken against Gritzner, who has been the town police chief since Oct. 9, 1995.

The town hired Gritzner as a police officer January 1986.

After that incident, Lauderdale offered a bit of advice.

"Police officers, similar to elected officials, must understand that we live in a fishbowl and need to be mindful that, at all times, we need to be held to a higher standard of conduct, whether on-duty or off-duty," he said.

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