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Former police chief won't be leaving empty-handed

Settlement agreement reveals terms of Gritzner's retirement

October 06, 2010 | 08:50 AM
Geneva — Ed Gritzner's retirement from his longtime post as town police chief will cost taxpayers an extra $65,000.

That's in addition to his budgeted salary for this year, which Town Clerk-Treasurer Deb Kirch said Monday is $75,400.

But that $65,000 won't be paid to him all at once.

This was revealed after the town of Geneva complied with an open records request filed Sept. 17 by the Regional News. The settlement and some e-mails were supplied by Town Clerk-Treasurer Deb Kirch Monday.

Two pages of e-mails were not released because of "attorney-client confidential communications" and they contain "police personnel record information."

As of Tuesday, Supervisors Bob Kamps and Keith Millard did not comply with the open records request.

According to the agreement, Gritzner "shall continue to receive his regularly scheduled salary and shall receive additional payments totaling $30,000."

Those amounts will be disbursed equally throughout this year's remaining pay periods.

Gritzner will serve as a consultant to the town "to provide an orderly transition for a successor chief of police" until Jan. 31, 2011, according to the agreement.

For that role, he will receive a net sum of $35,000 — $17,500 in his first paycheck of 2011, and another $17,500 after Gritzner fufills his consultant obligations.

Town Chairman Dan Lauderdale and Gritzner signed the settlement agreement Sept. 16, the day of a special Town Board meeting where Gritzner announced his retirement. At the start of that meeting, 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 stated. "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.'"

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 Geneva in January 1986 and rose from the rank of sergeant to police chief during the past 24 years.

But earlier this year, Gritzner was the subject of criticism and discipline.

On March 16, the Town Police Commission signed an order suspending him for one day, with pay. 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."

In April, during an interview, 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."

Then came the Aug. 7 FunFestival incident, an event officials haven't discussed publicly yet. None of the materials released Monday referenced this alleged incident.

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."

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."

At first, Lauderdale asked the Regional News not to investigate the incident. In past e-mails, he declined to comment on the incident. On Sept. 16, Gritzner declined an offer to be interviewed.

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

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