Guilderland police chief candidates threaten legal action

Two candidates vying for the open chief of police position in Guilderland have served notice they may sue the town over comments posted by a Guilderland Town Board member on a Web site.

Acting Chief Carol Lawlor and Lt. Curtis Cox contend comments made by Councilman Warren Redlich, a Republican, indicate he would deny them the promotion to the chief's position for political reasons.

On a Times Union's political blog, Redlich referred to the two officers as political flunkies. The Feb. 7 post also said that one candidate for chief had eight lawn signs on his property supporting the Democrats in the fall elections.

"He was also reported to be at the Dems' election night event. The appearance of court officials and police administration at a partisan event does not bode well for Guilderland," wrote Redlich.

Lawlor, a 30-year veteran of the department, has served as acting chief since former Chief James Murley retired amid misconduct charges in May. Cox is second in command within the department.

"I did not think it was going to be a fair interview process with Mr. Redlich taking part in it," said Lawlor of the decision to obtain an attorney. She and Cox have hired Paul A. Clyne, a former Albany County District Attorney now in private practice, to represent them. In early February, Clyne sent a letter to the town warning of likely legal action.

"There is a very real possibility that we would take some steps against any and all members of the town board that expressed some animus based on political affiliation," said Clyne, who referred to the New York State Labor Law that prohibits an employer from discriminating against individuals for political activities or beliefs. Clyne said the posting of political lawn signs is his clients' First Amendment right.

"That's their business and really, under the law, can't be used as a basis to deny someone promotion," said Clyne.

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