flag image
Burlington Chocolate Fest

Police department carries on

Former police chief still being paid as an adviser

September 29, 2010 | 08:35 AM
Geneva — First, a town police sergeant resigned as the result of a felony case against him.

Then, last week, longtime Police Chief Ed Gritzner retired more than one month after his alleged involvement in a controversial incident at the town's FunFestival.

With two of the department's highest ranking personnel gone, the remaining police officers have been left to cover the workload.

On Monday, Geneva Town Chairman Dan Lauderdale said the remaining four active full-time officers are sharing the responsibilities of running the department.

Lauderdale didn't indicate any concerns about the department being able to handle calls while it's down two officers.

"There is sufficient part-time staff to provide the town coverage," he said.

Meanwhile, the Geneva Town Police Commission met Thursday, Sept. 23, to discuss hiring a new chief.

According to Lauderdale, the Geneva Town Board will meet "sometime this week" to discuss and possibly act on advertising for the job.

Although Gritzner has retired, he's not entirely out of the picture yet. Officially, Gritzner's last day is Dec. 31.

However, Lauderdale said Gritzner is out of the office, acting as an adviser to the department, available "on call."

Lauderdale said Gritzner still is being paid, but he wouldn't say how much.

"That's going to be in the settlement agreement," Lauderdale said.

On Sept. 17, the Regional News filed an open records request to the town, which asks for "any and all documents concerning Police Chief Ed Gritzner's retirement, including e-mails."

The settlement agreement is expected to be part of these documents.

On Monday, Geneva Clerk-Treasurer Deb Kirch said Gritzner has until Monday, Oct. 4, to decide to seek a court order restricting the town from releasing these records.

Kirch said this is a right he has per State Statutes.

As of Monday afternoon, she said Gritzner has not contested the release of these documents.

Cop controversy

Despite a warm farewell issued to Gritzner from town of Geneva officials during a Sept. 16 special meeting, the former police chief and former Sgt. Robert Haase left the Town Police Department this year after sharp public scrutiny.

In July, prosecutors agreed to drop felony charges against Haase with the condition he had to resign from the department.

Dismissed were two felony charges of misconduct in office which stemmed from reports of how Haase handled a sexual assault investigation.

These reports surfaced during a Town Police Commission hearing Nov. 19, which was prompted after Gritzner filed charges of mishandling evidence and unbecoming conduct against Haase.

Commissioners decided to demote Haase to the rank of patrolman.

As for Gritzner, on March 16, the Police Commission suspended him for one day with pay after a complaint he used profanity and "threatening conduct" toward a town resident over the telephone.

Since then, there have been several comments on the Regional News website — some alleging the former chief of being drunk in public, others defending Gritzner.

What happened during the FunFestival remains a mystery, at least to those who weren't there. In August, a website user asked 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."

Recently, the Town Board conducted closed session meetings about Gritzner.

On Sept. 16, Lauderdale stated he couldn't comment on discussions "that may or may not have taken place during closed session meetings."

Since the FunFestival, Lauderdale has avoided commenting on the alleged incident, including whether it led to Gritzner's recent decision to retire.

Comments ()
Walworth County
Regional News