In most small towns, the Chief of Police is someone you don’t ever want to be in the same room with for obvious reasons. But at least in Saratoga Springs, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Heck, you might even learn something from the guy. That’s because Saratoga Springs’ Police Chief Greg Veitch is not only the head law enforcer in town, but he also moonlights as a published author and historian. In May 2017, Veitch published his first book, All the Law in the World Won’t Stop Them, a retelling of 100 years of local “gambling, violence, crime and the most blatant forms of corruption” that make up what Veitch calls “the darker side of Saratoga Springs.”
“The idea started when I was a kid,” says Veitch. ” I was told a story about my great-grandfather, Sid, who was supposedly involved in a gangland murder in Saratoga in the 1930s.” Veitch is a fifth-generation Saratogian, which affords him access to a wealth of knowledge about the Spa City (the ghost of his great-grandmother, Beatrice Veitch, is said to haunt the Olde Bryan Inn restaurant). He joined the Saratoga Springs Police Department in the ’90s, where he worked his way up through the ranks. “Years later, when I was in the detective division, I had occasion to be in the archives, and out of curiosity, looked up the oldest case we had, which turned out to be the unsolved murder of Adam Parillo. It was the same murder that Sid was supposed to have been involved in.” It turned out that Sid Veitch wasn’t actually a player in Parillo’s murder, but the story itself intrigued Veitch nonetheless. He prepared a presentation about it at the Saratoga Springs History Museum, and through his subsequent research, was introduced to dozens of other crime stores that “told a story of Saratoga’s past that people would not associate with the city today.” This preliminary research would inspire Veitch to write his book.
For five years, Veitch mined Saratoga’s extensive historical resources; he worked with the Saratoga Room and the History Museum, swapped notes with the City Historian, and pored over old newspapers. Veitch believes his background in law enforcement helped him better understand his sources. “Being an officer was beneficial since I could look at old news reports and understand what likely happened but wasn’t reported. It was easier to read between the lines.” All of that research eventually turned into All the Law. “The book is about the long struggle between gamblers and gangsters and reformers in Saratoga’s history, from the founding of the village through just before prohibition,” Veitch says. “I wrote the book, in part, because there was no one central resource that told the story of the nefarious side of Saratoga, and the stories were so fascinating and would be unbelievable, if they weren’t true.”
Now that Veitch isn’t only the Police Chief but a published author, he regularly leads presentations, conferences and walking tours that focus on Saratoga’s seedy past. If you’re curious about Saratoga’s less-than-savory side, grab a copy of All the Law in the World Won’t Stop Them at the Northshire Bookstore or browse Veitch’s blog, The Gangsters of Saratoga.