Pleasantville Police Chief As Local as Local Gets


Chief of Police Erik Grutzner has credits from several colleges and universities including Pace, which he graduated from in 2012 with a Master’s Degree in Management for Public Safety and Homeland Security Professionals. Photo by James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

James Miranda, Sports Editor

The Pleasantville Police Department’s Chief of Police Erik Grutzner has spent his whole career in Pleasantville, which is why he looks to improve it.

The Putnam native never contemplated police work when he was younger. He wasn’t quite sure what he’d be doing, rather, and he didn’t find the answer while he attended SUNY Brockport.

“I had fun, I had a really good time [in college], but I was not prepared for the academic requirements and I wasn’t mature enough to realize I’m not prepared for this,” said Grutzner, who was asked to leave Brockport after his first year. “The first summer I came home from school, I was back with all my high school friends, we’re having a great time, it’s great and I said I’m going to get a job and still have a great time.

“As soon as everybody else went back to school and I was left at home, I was like, ‘I need to go back to school, this isn’t working.’ That’s when I started to get serious.”

The answer, however, lied at home with his father—Paul Grutzner, a now-retired detective sergeant in Westchester County—whom recommended he apply to a Summer Special, which is a summer internship of sorts where he policed parks, Playland specifically.

The program exposed him to how fun police work can be, but his coworkers and the community made the job more pleasant, which spawned his affinity towards local work.

It impacted him so greatly, he attended the Westchester County Police Academy for 18 weeks, graduated in 1993 and joined the Pleasantville PD in 1994.

Becoming a cop was tenuous, however, because Grutzner didn’t know how ready he was. He was eager and always looking for something to do.

“They say it takes an officer about five years to really be able to handle anything that comes their way and I probably took close to five years,” the father of two said. “What I did over the summers was a hobby, this was a career and all the changes that goes on when you’re basically doing a hobby and make it your job.”

Part of figuring it out, however, was just being himself and not being a tough guy or a something he wasn’t at all. And much like how the community in Playland molded him initially, so did Pleasantville.

“I started to meet and really like the experiences I was having, the people I was dealing with, and to be honest police work is fun,” said Grutzner, who was promoted to sergeant and lieutenant in 2006 and 2012, respectively. “You get to talk to people you never had an opportunity to talk to and so, a few years in a kind of looked around, thought maybe there’s a place busier I could go, and realized [Pleasantville] sort of fits.”

The 22-year veteran took over for Ex-Chief of Police Richard Love—who retired due to a non-job-related injury, according to Examiner News—on Nov. 1.

The responsibility is greater, but the personal approach he carries is first and foremost to him.

“He’s someone I can see [being chief] for 20-years,” said Dr. Joseph Ryan, Chairman of Pace’s Department of Criminal Justice and Security and one of Grutzner’s professors. “When he was the lieutenant, you’d always see him walking around the neighborhood in his uniform talking to people.

“[Working at the local level] you’re getting into a more personal level where you can actually solve problems. They always talk about the helicopter view, what can you do to help a situation on the ground from a helicopter? A good detective knows the people he deals with.”

Grutzner expressed that Pleasantville has its negatives and positives and Pace, which he graduated from in 2012, is definitely a part of the community. The campus isn’t his jurisdiction, but he openly looks out for it on terms of policing and outreach.

Pleasantville isn’t Grutzner’s home, but its community made it the place he has sworn to protect and serve.