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A year of controversy, retirement, tornadoes



Pick up the Regional News for more top stories from 2010.
December 29, 2010 | 09:15 AM
1. It's tough behind the badge

It wasn't a good year for some police officers in the towns of Geneva and Linn, especially former Geneva Police Chief Ed Gritzner. Although he received a warm sendoff when his retirement was announced Sept. 16 at a special Geneva Town Board meeting, it was a tough year for the longtime chief.

In March, he was suspended for a day by the Geneva Town Police Commission. Then, in August, some people alleged Gritzner had an altercation with another Town Board supervisor during the FunFestival. To date, no town officials have confirmed it. In an e-mail Friday, Geneva Town Chairman Dan Lauderdale said he offers "no additional comment on the FunFestival incident."

However, the circumstances surrounding the end of former Geneva Town Sgt. Robert Haase's local career weren't as mysterious. In 2009, Haase faced charges made by Gritzner, including one for mishandling evidence. This year, the way he reportedly handled evidence in a sexual assault case found him the subject of two felony charges. In July, prosecutors agreed to drop those charges if Haase resigned from the town of Geneva. The Linn Town Police Department saw its share of trouble from what one resident dubbed "tractor-gate."

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That was Jim Keeler, one of 14 residents who signed a July complaint which stated several allegations against Linn Police Chief Dennis Wisniewski. Last year, his alleged sale of a lawn tractor impounded as evidence sparked controversy. This year, former Linn Lt. Terry O'Brien attempted to return to duty after his role in the controversy. That ended in March, when O'Brien and the town reached a $75,000 settlement in a separation agreement. The Linn Town Board still hasn't made a public decision about the complaint. However, when former longtime Linn Chairman David Bollweg retired in May, he said one of his reasons was "the tractor."

Although it remains to be seen how the board handles the matter in Linn, Lauderdale said Friday Geneva is close to hiring a new police chief.

"We are hopeful that a new chief of police will be in place on or about March 1, at which time the retired Chief Ed Gritzner will be asked to provide for a 30-day transition process," Lauderdale said.

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