Stan Valchek

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Stanislaus Valchek
The Wire Valcheck.jpg
First appearance "The Buys" (episode 1.03)
Last appearance "–30–" (episode 5.10)
Created by David Simon
Portrayed by Al Brown
Gender Male
Occupation Baltimore Police
Title Commissioner
Spouse(s) Kate (wife)
Children Joan Pryzbylewski (daughter)
Relatives Roland Pryzbylewski (son-in-law)

Stanislaus "Stan" Valchek is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by actor Al Brown.


Valchek is the Polish-American commander of the Southeastern district, home to many of the remaining white ethnic neighborhoods in Baltimore. A politician more than a policeman, he is well-connected and is on good terms with various Democratic organizations close to City Hall, most notably the politically influential developer Andrew Krawczyk. In Season 4 Tommy Carcetti suggests that Valchek was named commander of the Southeastern Police District because it is a position reserved for either Greek American or Polish American commanders in the department. His political savvy led to a quick and easy rise through the ranks, despite being disliked by commanding officers such as Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Deputy Commissioner William Rawls. Valchek is Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski's father-in-law.

Season 1[edit]

Valchek only appears once, in a meeting with Deputy Commissioner Burrell and Lieutenant Daniels, trying to smooth over Prez's drunken maiming of a fourteen-year-old. Valchek tells Daniels that if Daniels helps Prez, Valchek will owe him a favor.

Season 2[edit]

Valchek is the impetus behind an investigation into corruption at the docks, due to a petty feud he has with the International Brotherhood of Stevedores' treasurer Frank Sobotka, another Polish American. Both men want to donate stained glass windows to a local church, and Sobotka refuses to withdraw his larger, more expensive window which had been installed first. Valchek becomes curious as to how the struggling union can afford the expensive window. He responds by having the cops in his district harass Sobotka and his union, from having Carver ticket their cars for minor infractionss, and pulling them over for "random" DUI checkpoints directly outside the bar they frequent. The union respond by stealing Valchek's valuable district surveillance van and shipping it from port to port, sending him photographs from each destination.

Valchek discusses the union with Krawczyk, who knows of Sobotka making numerous campaign contributions. Valchek feels there is a possibility of illegal activity, while at the same time noticing Burrell's nomination for Acting Commissioner. Knowing that Burrell has trouble finding support with the first district council members, Valchek offers Burrell political influence in exchange for a special unit devoted to investigating Sobotka, with Prez as the lead investigator. Burrell has Rawls send an investigative team from CID to Valchek, all "highly recommended" officers, but in fact just dead-weight "humps." When Valchek witnesses the task force's lack of work ethic, he blackmails Burrell into providing him a real police detail led by Daniels as commander (on Prez's recommendation and repaying the favor owed to Daniels from Season 1), threatening to complicate Burrell's effort to become Commissioner if he doesn't comply. Burrell obligingly recreates Daniels' task force.

As the investigation expands to cover Greek drug traffickers, Sobotka ceases to be the primary target, angering Valchek. Valchek goes to the FBI to try to refocus the investigation, turning it into a racketeering case, but the bureau remains more focused on the union and port than Sobotka. Valchek confronts Daniels' team publicly, insulting and shoving Prez, who responds by punching Valchek in the face. Furious, he disowns Prez and threatens to have him expelled from the department. Daniels convinces him to reduce Prez's punishment, pointing out that any official action will have to mention that Valchek provoked the attack (Daniels even offers to have the BPD rewrite the statements on Valchek's behalf but claims the FBI agents who witnessed the attack won't). Valchek grudgingly assigns Prez two months of duty on the midnight shift of the district's narcotics unit and accepts a letter of apology in exchange for not charging him.

At the close of the investigation, Valchek delights in personally making the arrest of Sobotka, and holds him in the union offices until he can be publicly dragged out in front of the press. Sobotka is later killed, but the surveillance van is still being shipped around the world.[1] Although Valchek harbors great animosity towards Sobotka during the whole season, after Sobotka's death he whispers "Spoczywaj w pokoju" (Polish for "rest in peace".)

Season 3[edit]

Valchek sets up a meeting between Burrell and Tommy Carcetti, a city councilman from Valchek's district, knowing that Carcetti is doing deals behind Mayor Clarence Royce's back.

When Royce pressures the department to lower the crime rates in each distrct, Valchek announces plans to increase foot patrols in his district's housing projects, use more of his flex squads, request more overtime and juke the stats if all else fails (turning burglaries into larcenies, and downgrading assault charges amongst other things). In the midst, Valchek is surprised and amused when Major Colvin stands up to Rawls and questions how to "juke the stats" with regard to dead bodies. When talking with the other commanders, Valchek is amused by Colvin's proposal of drug legalization (ostensibly as a joke) to decrease the felonies in the Western District.

Later, during the pursuit of a suspect, Prez accidentally kills a plainclothes officer, a mistake further complicated by racial implications (the killed officer was black). Despite disowning him earlier, Valchek uses his influence to have the charges dismissed, and although Daniels and several other African-American officers are willing to testify (per Valchek's request) that Prez is not racist, Prez resigns from the force.[2]

Season 4[edit]

Valchek mentors Herc in political maneuvering, after Herc catches Royce receiving a blowjob from a secretary. Acting on Valchek's advice, Herc is promoted to sergeant.

With Carcetti running for Mayor, Valchek supports his campaign, leaking him information such as the murder of a state's witness. When Valchek later leaks the news of Burrell's replacement of the veteran Ed Norris with the rookie Kima Greggs on the state's witness case, the fallout leads to Royce deciding to replace Burrell as commissioner. Before this happened, Carcetti gets elected Mayor, and Burrell manages to keep his appointed position for the time being.

Carcetti informs Rawls that Valchek will be promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Administration as a reward for his loyalty, but describes him as a "hack" and asks Rawls to keep him from doing any damage. At the promotion ceremony, Valchek's wife and daughter are present while Prez is conspicuously absent. As departmental power shifts and Carcetti begins plotting to oust Burrell, Valchek points out to Rawls that Daniels, now promoted to Colonel, is more likely to be the next Police Commissioner than Rawls, if only because Daniels is African American.[3]

Season 5[edit]

Valchek is shown early in the season leaking the department's real police statistics over the increased crime rate to Carcetti. He urges that both Burrell and Rawls should be kicked out for two straight quarters yielding a 4% increase in violent crime. He also suggests that Carcetti should promote him to Acting Commissioner at least until Daniels or another African American is named to the permanent post. Carcetti and assistant Norman Wilson both agree that Valchek is unfit to deal with the city council president and minister's alliance, even on an acting basis, but keep the statistics nonetheless. It is later revealed that Valchek is a prime source for The Baltimore Sun reporter Roger Twigg.

Unable to take disciplinary action for a crime increase due to the department's lack of funding, Carcetti decides he will give Burrell a free pass assuming honest statistics are delivered. When Burrell delivers juked stats showing no increase or decrease in the crime rate, he is unaware of the crime stats Valchek has already leaked to Carcetti. With the clean and juked statistics in his possession, Carcetti has the ammunition to fire Burrell and leaks a story to The Baltimore Sun with Daniels' photograph in an effort to appease the city's African-American voters about the consideration for a change of Police Commissioner.

In the series finale, Daniels is named commissioner but resigns to prevent an FBI case against him from going public. Valchek is then promoted to the position of Police Commissioner (with a full five-year term) by new mayor Nerese Campbell. Valchek is not well regarded for his police work throughout the department, as mentioned by Leandor Sydnor when he visits Judge Daniel Phelan to get some back-channel pressure applied to a case and mentions how the current police commissioner "doesn't have an idea of what police work is".


  1. ^ Dan Kois (2004). "Everything you were afraid to ask about "The Wire"". Retrieved 2006-07-12. 
  2. ^ "Org Chart - The Law". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-22. 
  3. ^ "Character profile - Major Stanislaus Valchek". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-22.