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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 19, 2008

Both parties salute Captain Cox

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — With a sizable crowd and all three town-board Democrats as an audience, for the second time in as many weeks, a police department official was promoted yesterday.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, both town-board Republicans apologized for missing Police Chief Carol Lawlor’s swearing-in ceremony, which was held during a workday at the beginning of the month, and said that they wished Captain Curtis Cox’s promotion ceremony could be held in the evening, rather than during the workday on Wednesday, when neither one could make it.

In contrast to the split vote, along party lines, that named Lawlor police chief earlier this month, Cox was named captain in a unanimous vote. 

Cox, a 24-year veteran of the department and a life-long Guilderland resident, had been among the initial eight candidates interviewed for the chief’s position, but was not asked for a second round. 

In February, he and Lawlor jointly served the town with a letter warning of likely legal action, which, ultimately, didn’t come to pass.  They were upset by a blog post from Republican Councilman Warren Redlich, which referred to the two officers as “political flunkies.” The Feb. 7 post also said that one police-chief candidate had eight lawn signs on his small parcel supporting the Democrats in the fall elections.  The two recently-elected Republican councilmen had advocated widening the search beyond Cox and Lawlor and accused the Democrats of only looking in-house.  The pair of officers, though, felt that Redlich’s posts showed an unfair bias against them.  Their lawyer, Paul Clyne, and Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion claimed that the blog posts violated a section of state labor law which prohibits an employer from discriminating against individuals for their political activity or beliefs.

Although neither Redlich nor fellow Republican Mark Grimm voted for Lawlor as police chief, both said that they were satisfied with the process, and, on Tuesday, the newly-appointed chief made her recommendation to the town board for Cox’s promotion from lieutenant to captain.

“What do you see as the difference between deputy chief and captain?” Redlich asked Lawlor, during a discussion in which he made clear he thought Cox should be appointed to Lawlor’s old position of deputy chief.

“I’m trying to differentiate between the two,” she said of the two sections within the department, “so there is a clear line of authority.”

She explained that Lieutenant Daniel McNally is to be in charge of the line, that encompasses those in patrol positions, and Captain Cox is to be in charge of the staff, which covers the administrative employees.  Further, Lawlor said, she intends to maintain some the duties she handled while deputy chief.

The town created the deputy chief’s position for Lawlor in January of 2006 after former Chief James Murley suggested to the board that a deputy chief was needed.  He said at the time the position was needed to better manage the department, not to “hand over the reins.”  Murley resigned last year amid accusations of wrongdoing.

The position of deputy chief still exists within the department; however, it will go unfilled for the time being.  The board’s promotion of Cox to captain has created that position for the first time in the department’s roughly 30-year history.

“If the board wants to make him captain, I’ll vote for him as captain,” Redlich said after getting some resistance from the rest of the board to his proposal to make Cox deputy chief.

Following the unanimous vote to promote Cox to the $87,366 post of captain, Cox thanked the board and noted the importance of letting people move “up the chain.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

—         Voted unanimously to submit a grant application for rehabilitation of part of the performing arts center in Tawasentha Park.  The grant would pay for construction of handicapped-accessible bathrooms, renovation of the sound and lighting control facility and systems, and reconfiguration of the seating area to “enhance accessibility and visibility.”  If given, the grant from the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation would cover $107,500 of the $215,000 project;

—         Voted unanimously to submit a grant application to the New York State Department of Transportation for construction of sidewalks to fill in the gaps in a network along Carman Road.  The grant would cover $688,000 of the $860,000 project; and

—         Voted unanimously to award the bid for construction of the West End water looping and extension project to Vacri Construction Corporation of Binghamton.  It offered the lowest cost of eight bids, at $3,960,000.  Project Manager Ed Hernandez, of Delaware Engineering, recommended that the board choose Vacri and said that he shared the board members’ initial skepticism of the low figure but was convinced of the company’s ability after sitting down with Vacri employees to go over the numbers and, he said, he has been impressed with two recently-completed jobs that he has seen from the company.

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