By MORGAN FRISCH
It’s barely been a week since Kelli McCoski was sworn in as Montgomery County district attorney, but she’s already working to pick up where her predecessor, James “Jed” Conboy, left off to stop the flow of drugs in and around the county.
“We are well on our way with the recent drug bust in Amsterdam,” she said. “The plan was to eliminate the trafficking of drugs into Montgomery County.”
After a little more time settling in, she plans to get in touch with the Bronx district attorney in an effort to form a relationship. McCoski said a lot of drugs coming into the county are from New York City and she would like to form an open line of communication to see what’s coming in and out.
“We need to deal with it and send a message to those who think they are going to come into this county,” she said. “ We need to send a very strong message, that you might think you are coming in, but you are not getting back out. My goal is to get that message down to the southern tier of the state. Don’t come into the county because you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent and our investigators are top notch and they are not going to hold back.”
Another one of her plans is to develop a program within the schools to help deter students from entering into drug related activity or usage.
“ I would personally go[into the schools],” McCoski said. “I want them to have a face with the name.”
McCoski defeated Howard Aison in November, while she was serving as Montgomery and Fulton county assistant district attorney. She ran on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reformed lines.
McCoski, who is the first woman to serve as district attorney for the county, is also sole practitioner at the Law Offices of Kelli P. McCoski. She was assistant Montgomery County attorney for several months and county attorney for approximately 10 years.
McCoski has done family court, matrimonial and defense work. In college, her concentration was contracts and securities. She said she likes the district attorney position best because the end result is serving the people in the community to the best of her ability.
“We [McCoski and other law enforcement officials] are working for a common goal to make Montgomery County a better place to live,” she said. “I like that feeling that you get at the end of the day.”
When she started working in the District Attorney’s Office in 2008, McCoski decided moving forward into that position was her goal. But because Conboy was not only her boss, but her friend, she waited to see when he retired if it was the right point in her career to run.
There have been no problems transitioning into the new position and McCoski is not anticipating any. She said Conboy wrapped up a lot of loose ends before he left.
McCoski has already made changes in the office by hiring Peter Califano, Christina Pearson and Lorraine Diamond as assistant district attorneys. Pamela Ladd is also still in the office. McCoski said she likes the “style” and “dedication” of her assistant district attorneys.
“I think I put together a really solid team,” she said.
McCoski said that although the pressure is always on for her to do her best, there are many aspects of the position that are very gratifying. There have been occasions when at least one person said she has “opened their eyes”.
“If you have one person that tells you that,” McCoski said. “That’s gratifying.”
Over the years, one of the biggest lessons she learned is “everyone is human and makes mistakes”.
McCoski said there are repeat offenders, but also people who come out of prison and straighten up their lives. She said behavior is difficult to change and sometimes impossible. Yet, she’s still seen positive results with individuals coming out of Montgomery County Drug Court or State Prison.
“Everyone is human and they deserve to be treated that way,” McCoski said. “But not at the expense of someone else.”