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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 18, 2008

Roger Ginder rises to sergeant’s rank

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — A cop who cares about kids will help shape the department.

Out of a pool of five officers, Roger Ginder was promoted to sergeant this week.

“For a group of people competing,” Ginder said of himself and his colleagues, “we helped each other a lot.”  They proofread each other’s résumés, he said.

Ginder was the most senior of all the officers up for the promotion, said Police Chief Carol Lawlor.  Although she’s not on the promotional review board, which conducts the interviews, she agreed with its recommendation and sent its suggestion to the town board for a vote on Tuesday.

Having started as a telecommunicator at the Guilderland Police Department in 1990, Ginder has spent most of career as an officer in the Youth Services Division.

“It’s absolutely something I’m going to miss,” Ginder said of his post in the juvenile division.  “It’s one aspect of the police department where you can really make a difference,” he said.

While he served as the school resource officer in Farnsworth Middle School, Ginder started the After-School Rock program, which got 13 eighth-graders together to play music.  Although it’s no longer in his job description, he plans to keep working with the kids during his time off, Ginder said.  The program will culminate with an end-of-the-year assembly for kids during the day and a concert for parents in the evening, he said.

“It was an opportunity I didn’t really think I was going to have,” Ginder said of why he decided to give up his post for the promotion.  “Our department has always been very community oriented,” he said, but with the recent appointment of Lawlor as chief, he sees the department heading definitively in that direction and wants to be part of the administration guiding it along.

“Roger is very community minded,” Lawlor said of Ginder.  “He’s very familiar with that theory — community policing.”

“I wanted to be a cop since I was 8 years old,” said Ginder, “like every little boy wants to be a cop or a fireman.”

Board politics

Four town board members voted for Ginder’s promotion at their Tuesday night meeting, with Republican Councilman Warren Redlich recusing himself.

Ginder had administered a Breathalyzer test to a client that Redlich’s law firm had been defending for a drunk-driving charge.  The firm took the case before Redlich was elected to the town board and, after an officer told a Bethlehem judge on Tuesday morning that he felt “uncomfortable testifying because it was my firm handling the case,” Redlich said last night, they have given the case to another law office.

Transferring this case means that his firm will no longer have any Guilderland cases, Redlich said.  It had been a point of contention on the split party board (see coverage at www.altamontenterprise.com under “archives” for Oct. 2, 2008 in Guilderland).

He has turned away three or four potential clients over the last few months because their cases involved the Guilderland Police Department, Redlich said.  “Ken Runion uses the power he has as supervisor to attack his political opponents economically,” Redlich said of the town’s Democratic supervisor.

During the meeting, Councilman Mark Grimm, the other Republican member of the town board, asked to sit on the promotional review board, which currently includes the town board’s two liaisons — Councilwoman Patricia Slavick and Councilman Paul Pastore — as well as Captain Curtis Cox, Sergeant Eric Batchelder, and Officer Russ Tallman.

Of his appointments to that review board, Runion said, “I select the by seniority.” 

Grimm maintained that he’d like to be on the board, but Runion said that, if there were three members of the town board serving, it would constitute a quorum, thus violating the state’s Open Meetings Law.  Grimm then suggested that the two seats be filled by one member of the town board’s minority party and one member of the town board’s majority party, to which Runion answered that it would take away the supervisor’s authority to appoint and the privilege of the senior members of the board, all of whom are Democrats.

Other business

In other business at recent town board meetings and with all unanimous votes, the board:

— Heard Runion thank firefighters for their work during the recent ice storm, which left as many as 8,000 Guilderland homes without power.  When Redlich asked what the total cost of the storm would be, Runion estimated it would total about $136,000, which he said would include overtime payment to highway workers and emergency personnel and the cost of grinding materials from fallen tree limbs;

— Heard from Dan Hershberg, who was representing Store Away at Guilderland, LLC, regarding the placement of sign in the Wagner Road right-of-way.  Runion was concerned about the proposed 18-foot height of the sign and Redlich asked that Hershberg notify neighbors in the area before the board votes.  Hershberg will come before the board again after he makes a request to the state to remove some foliage on state-owned property that would allow for a shorter sign;

— Approved a warrant adjustment for 1 Swift Lane and for 1041 DiBella Lane;

— Authorized the supervisor to sign a collector’s warrant for the Guilderland Water District;

— Canceled the Dec. 30 town board meeting;

— Acknowledged the audit findings and completions conducted by the town comptroller’s office of the justice court;

— Approved the request of the Altamont Free Library to transfer the property to which the library will move on Main Street in Altamont in exchange for a reduction in the annual Altamont Library funding by the town;

— Approved the request of the department of water and wastewater management for three warrant adjustments for the Guilderland Water District;

— Agreed to hold the town’s organizational meeting on Jan. 8; and

— Approved transfers as submitted by the town comptroller’s office.  Councilwoman Slavick pointed out that the transfer was for $1,200 to cover the additional costs of televising the recent town board meetings — one of which lasted for more than seven hours.

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