It took the state attorney general’s office an extra four and a half months to bring charges against Greg Kaczmarek, but the delay will have been worth it if it leads to a conviction that sends the former Schenectady police chief to prison — at least for some period of time.
It seemed clear enough from the transcripts of phone calls released in the big round of indictments in early May that Kaczmarek was not merely an illegal user of cocaine, but well aware of his wife Lisa’s business dealings involving the drug. In fact, it was hard to believe from the transcripts, and from the state police indictment of his wife, that Kaczmarek himself didn’t have a role in her enterprise: He was allegedly party to a strategy session between his wife and supplier Kerry “Slim” Kirkem after police intercepted a shipment of drugs bound for Schenectady in February, and on a taped phone conversation between those two, the former chief was heard in the background offering to drive to Long Island with Kirkem to pick up a shipment of drugs.
In that same conversation, Mrs. Kaczmarek allegedly quoted her husband as saying he’d “flash his badge” if necessary.
According to the new indictments, Kaczmarek actually coached Kirkem on how to keep the cops at bay — to get a new telephone number and find new places to “stash” his drugs — after the shipment was intercepted; and in repeated “coded and cryptic” phone conversations, he is alleged to have pressured Kirkem to supply him with drugs — both for his and his wife’s personal use and to sell.
Even though Kaczmarek retired several years ago, his behavior reflects badly on a department that was riddled with scandal not only when he was in charge of it but for many years later. And on the city in general: Crime remains a serious problem in Schenectady, and stories like this one make it difficult to escape the impression that its police department isn’t partly responsible. After all, didn’t any of the department’s current or recent past employees have the slightest inkling about what the former chief was up to?
It remains to be seen whether the evidence against Kaczmarek is solid enough for a conviction. Not only was the language in a lot of the phone conversations cited in the indictment “coded and cryptic,” the credibility of any prosecution witnesses may be undermined by the likelihood that they’ll be convicted felons. But we appreciate the extra effort the attorney general made to nail down an indictment in this case. Not only does it clearly seem to have been warranted, it should help the city put this latest embarrassing chapter in its police department’s history behind it.