A police lieutenant was promoted to assistant chief on Monday and assigned to manage what may be the most difficult division in the department.
Lt. Brian Kilcullen was tapped to fill the vacancy created when Mark Chaires became chief. But although Chaires had been responsible for the administrative services bureau, Kilcullen has been handed charge of the detectives.
The investigative division has come under increased scrutiny and criticism for unusually low solve rates for serious crimes, supervisory problems that allowed a detective to steal cocaine from the evidence locker and smoke it himself; and lax oversight years ago that led to some detectives illegally paying informants with drugs.
Five officers from the investigative division have gone to state prison for their on-duty acts in the past six years, and in each case, prosecutors have said management should bear some of the blame.
Kilcullen said he’s ready for such a challenging assignment.
“I hope to provide the leadership they need,” he said.
Assistant Chief Michael Seber — who has been in charge of the investigative division since 2002 — has been reassigned to manage the patrol officers. Assistant Chief Jack Falvo Jr. will supervise the administrative services bureau.
Chaires said the move was not meant as a criticism of Seber’s performance. He plans to rotate the assistant chiefs every two years, he said, citing his experience when he reluctantly moved from the patrol division to handle administration.
“I noticed a lot of professional growth on my part. I think it’s good to move around and I always thought if I were ever chief, I’d move them around every two years,” he said.
He also said he considered the department’s lieutenants and its two captains equally.
“I see them that way even though one technically outranks the other,” he said. “Lieutenant, captain, I don’t know if it makes that much difference. Brian was a good fit for what I’m looking for — first and foremost, character.”
Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said he wanted Kilcullen because the officer lives up to the ideals of his profession and takes it personally when other officers fall short.
“He will bring strong support to Chief Mark Chaires in his quest to enhance the professionalism of the department,” Bennett added.
Kilcullen and Seber plan to work together to improve the department’s solve rate. Seber will focus now on the initial investigations done by patrol officers as they respond to calls.
“The preliminary investigation, especially in burglaries, certainly we could do a better job in that,” Kilcullen said. The detectives, in turn, will ramp up their efforts to track down stolen goods.
“I want to know where the proceeds of burglaries go,” he said.
Last year the city solved roughly 5 percent of its burglaries.
Kilcullen said he will also focus on improving communication in the division. Some crime victims have complained that they never hear back from detectives.
“How do we deal with crime victims? How responsive are we? How good are we in putting together a case for the district attorney’s office?” Kilcullen began. “Really, I’ve just started today. I’m looking at everything.”
Kilcullen, 44, was hired in 1994. He was promoted to sergeant in 1998 and served as patrol supervisor until 2001, when he was promoted to lieutenant. Most recently, he was patrol platoon commander for the day shift and department spokesman.
He is a Schenectady native, graduating from Mont Pleasant High School in 1982.
He holds a bachelor’s in marketing and management from Siena College and a master’s in public administration from Marist College.
He lives in Saratoga Springs with his wife and daughter. His older brother, Kevin, who has been on the force for 18 years, works in the traffic unit within the patrol division.
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