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Police, town officials bid Gritzner a warm farewell

Chief's emotional sendoff at special Town Board meeting

September 22, 2010 | 08:49 AM
Geneva — Ed Gritzner approached the front of the Town Board table Thursday afternoon, Sept. 16, during a meeting that, for several, was special not just because it said so on the agenda.

"There's not much to say," he told a roomful of people, most of whom are town of Geneva officials and police officers. "I'm not a good speaker."

After 37 years in law enforcement, the town's police chief will retire. Officially, his last day is Dec. 31.

At the start of the meeting, Town Chairman Dan Lauderdale read a press release prepared by Gritzner and board members.

"Despite years of dedicated service to the town, Chief Gritzner has decided to devote his time and energy to his family," the release states. "While life changes are oftentimes difficult, Chief Gritzner stated, 'It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve the town of Geneva. Perhaps because I grew up here and lived here, it was difficult at times to please everyone all of the time. However, I always attempted to do the right thing.'"

Gritzner has fielded his share of negative press this year, largely stemming from his one-day suspension earlier this year to the mystery surrounding an incident alleged to have transpired between him and another Town Board supervisor at the FunFestival in August.

However, none of that was brought up Sept. 16.

During the meeting, Town Attorney Steve Wassel said they had been talking about his resignation for some time.

However, shortly after the Sept. 16 meeting, Gritzner declined an offer to be interviewed.

"I think I said all I'm going to say," Gritzner said.

During the meeting, he said he enjoyed working for the town of Geneva and complimented the people he served with in the past and presently.

"You couldn't ask for better people," Gritzner said.

Several others wished Gritzner well and said nothing but kind words about him.

Lauderdale, currently a police officer in Williams Bay, discussed Gritzner's law enforcement career.

According to Lauderdale, Gritzner began his career in 1973, serving the town of Geneva until 1977. Then, he served the city of Lake Geneva from 1977 to 1981. From 1981 to 1985, he was the police chief in Boulder Junction. Gritzner returned to the town of Geenva in January 1986 and rose from the rank of sergeant to police chief during the past 24 years.

Lauderdale said he served with Gritzner.

"He showed true leadership and was an integral part of my training," Lauderdale said.

From the press release, Lauderdale said, "the town of Geneva warmly thanks Chief Gritzner for the many years he devoted to protecting and serving the community. Although the town wishes him well, his presence will be sorely missed."

Town Board Supervisors Keith Millard, Bob Kamps and Larry Kulik also offered fond farewell sentiments to Gritzner — some brief, others laced with humor, all thanking him for his service to the town.

Kamps gave the chief a hug, as did Town Clerk-Treasurer Deb Kirch after Lauderdale presented Gritzner with a plaque.

Police Commission President Jay Hencken remarked positively about working with Gritzner — even if they didn't always agree.

"Not all the time did we mesh very well, but I think it was for all the right reasons," Hencken said.

One common statement made by Gritzner, Lauderdale and Town Police Sgt. Ken Mulhollon was that being a police officer isn't easy.

"As a police officer, it's just tough," Mulhollon said.

He and town police officer Eric Anderson paid Gritzner some of the highest compliments of the meeting.

"He wasn't just a boss," Anderson said. "He was a friend to all of us."

"He made me a better person," Mulhollon said.

The search begins?

The discussion about how to find someone to replace Gritzner may begin as early as Thursday, Sept. 23.

The Town Police Commission has a meeting scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Commissioners will discuss "search parameters, interview process/procedure, job description/requirements, compensation package and advertising options for vacancy" in the police chief position.

Although Gritzner has resigned, he's not entirely out of the loop.

On Sept. 16, Lauderdale announced Gritzner will act as an "advisor and consultant" to help the town find his successor.

"I credit his willingness to do so and that willingness is even more evidence of his devotion and commitment to the town of Geneva residents," Lauderdale stated in a Sept. 16 e-mail after the meeting.

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