At the time of his retirement from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tom Constantine
and the State University of New York announced that he would be accepting an appointment as a Public Service
Professor associated with the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. In that capacity, Professor
Constantine undertook to develop an innovative new executive development program for New York's 600-plus law
enforcement executives. His concept for this institution is set forth below.
New York State Law Enforcement Executives
A Joint Concept
New York State Association of Chiefs of Police
State University of New York at Albany
Thomas A. Constantine
Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
The State of New York has a proud record of leadership in providing its citizens with the best in public safety services.
In 1917, we organized the New York State Police modeled on innovations that were initiated in Ireland by the British government in the early part of the 19th Century and which were carried around the world within the context of the British Empire. Today police forces in places as far apart as Canada and India have common roots traceable to a statute enacted by the British Parliament in 1814 called the Irish Peace Preservation Act. New York created the state police on this model because it was the best and because in much of the then mostly rural state there were no really effective police services. Of course, that long ago ceased to be the case as sheriffs' departments and municipal police agencies grew more important, capable and professional, developments that may be attributed to the advocacy of their professional associations, such as the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, founded in 1901.
In 1959, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller signed into law a new statute that imposed the first ever legal requirement that all newly appointed police officers meet basic selection criteria and satisfactorily complete a basic training course in law and police procedure. This occurred just as the United States Supreme Court began handing down the long series of momentous decisions that transformed the way police officers throughout the United States are trained and how they perform their duties. The new training requirement and the Municipal Police Training Council that prescribed its content began the development of a structure for turning the decisions of the highest court in the land into the sophisticated body of knowledge that has enabled law enforcement to evolve into more of a true profession.
Governor Rockefeller also moved to modernize the New York State Police through the 1961 appointment as superintendent of a highly-educated former administrator with the much more elaborately organized Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was during the administration of this man, Arthur Cornelius, Jr., that the rural, decentralized, paramilitary state police was transformed into an efficient, centralized, mature bureaucracy. As the state's pre-eminent full-service police agency, the state police as Superintendent Cornelius left it has had a tremendous influence on the subsequent evolution of all of the county and municipal police agencies with which it cooperates.
In the latter part of the 1960s, Governor Rockefeller again stepped into the course of the history of law enforcement when he convened a series of meetings of police executives, prosecutors, judges, academics and representatives of the business community to examine issues of crime and its impact on communities. These conferees met with a mandate to develop recommendations with big implications. It was clear to all that the necessary "big picture" that was needed would require far more reliable scholarly research than was then available to help shape effective crime control policy for the years ahead. The result was the creation of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy with its renowned programs in Public Administration and Criminal Justice. This institution's subsequent history and the achievements of its alumni have clearly demonstrated that its graduate programs prepare real leaders for real challenges in many government offices, emphatically including law enforcement.
The year 1978 saw a far-reaching decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that would have a tremendous impact on police administration and training. The case of Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York gave a new interpretation to an 1871 statute that had been gathering dust for over a century and for the first time made municipal governments financially liable for violations of federally-protected civil rights by municipal employees acting in their official capacity. This opened the door to well over a decade of hugely expensive lawsuits and rising insurance costs for local governments who were being held accountable for the actions of their police officers. Theories of negligence in selection, training, supervision and discipline proliferated all accross the nation. Every police executive was faced with the potential that some officer subject to his or her command would be responsible for a lawsuit, bad publicity and huge money damages against the municipal government.
Once again, New York took the lead in responding to the municipal liability crisis. In 1988, we enacted a state law that created a remarkable new program intended to help police and sheriffs' departments accross the state bring their selection, training and organizational policies and procedures up to the standards that the courts had established. The New York State Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation Program is unique in that its membership includes not only police executives from every level of law enforcement in the state, but executives of county, town and municipal governments, the state legislature, police labor organizations, rank and file officers and a college professor of criminal justice. The standards developed by this body have great authority and the police agencies certified to meet them through the accreditation process are in a very good position to defend themselves in lawsuits.
At the same time that the municipal liability crisis was raging, the nation was in the throes of the crack epidemic and a relentlessly upward-spiralling surge of violent crime. Though communities everywhere were affected, New York City was experiencing particularly intractable problems exacerbated by deep cuts in its criminal justice agencies made during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Public opinion reached critical mass in the early 1990s and the state government stepped in to turn the tide with the Safe Streets/Safe City Act. That legislation injected a huge and highly-targeted infusion of resources into the city's police, corrections, public transport and other critical agencies. That was the turning point and for the rest of the decade, violent crime subsided steadily and dramatically.
As may be seen through this brief summary of high points in police administration in New York during the last century, New York and its police professionals have a very good record of keeping pace with change. But there is always room for improvement. The criminal problems that society expects the police to solve are becoming more sophisticated and even international. The municipal liability crisis may have abated, but new and costly legal issues are arising out of employment discrimination law and discriminatory enforcement allegations that have severely rocked major police agencies. The war on drugs has raised a whole series of complex legal, labor, ethical and community relations issues that were unknown in American jurisprudence and law enforcement prior to 1973. The technology available for law enforcement is powerful, often expensive and even more often quickly obsolete. How does one decide what equipment to buy? Responsibility for dealing with all of these proliferating complexities end up on the desk of one individual: "The Chief"”
There is also a deeper theme underlying this hitorical pageant. Law enforcement, especially at the executive level, is steadily evolving into a true profession. Because police agencies remain subdivisions of municipal governments, they will never achieve the independent status of, say, the legal profession, but they nonetheless have grown more assertive and responsible for developing professional and ethical standards, a body of professional knowledge and the means of transmitting these to succeeding generations of executives. Because of the on-going nature of law enforcement executive's responsibilities and the relatively small number of incumbents, it is not practical to maintain or send them off to stand-alone professional academies for immersion in a professional curriculum. The fact remains, however, that we have reached, at this time, a moment in that evolution that cries out for moving on to the next stage of development. That stage calls for a response that is unique to the need.
Being the chief executive of a law enforcement agency in New York is one of the most demanding jobs in government. It is, nonetheless, a good and satisfying job with its share of adventure and excitement. It certainly attracts some of the best and brightest individuals in public service. But what do we have in place to prepare these executives for the complexities and the rapid changes that they will have to deal with on a day to day basis?
The answer to that question is that we have been remiss. There is no statutory executive level equivalent to the basic training requirement for new recruits that we enacted in 1959 or the first level supervisory training requirement that followed it. The ascent to an executive position comes after long experience and steady rising through the organizational hierarchy. There is specialized in-service training from a variety of sources. Some are fortunate to be selected at the mid-level of their careers to receive advanced career development training such as that provided by the FBI National Academy. Increasingly, the value of a college education has been embraced by the police profession and more and more police executives have undergraduate and even graduate degrees, but many will candidly concede that the formal education they received through college degree programs did not adequately prepare them for the responsibilities they hold as chief.
It is time that New York once again show its traditional leadership in addressing in big and effective way the need to develop law enforcement leaders who are prepared for the challenges that exist and those to come. We have two unique resources at our disposal to make that happen. The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, now a century old, has a long tradition of advocating for its members and articulating their longstanding commitment to improving their professional performance and capability. It was the association and its distinguished Executive Director, Joseph S. Dominelli, that took the lead in creating New York's Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation Program in 1988. Now, the association has joined in partnership with the State University of New York at Albany to create that institution for leadership development that we require if the profession is to take its next evolutionary step.
The Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, a graduate institution of the State University, places a major emphasis on executive leadership in public service. The faculty includes noted scholars in the fields of budgeting, finance, human resources, labor relations, information technology, ethics. Its alumni include many individuals who have distinguished themselves in publc service. Its faculty is celebrated for its ability to meld academic knowledge with practical skills to develop highly competent executives and administrators. Its Dean, Frank J. Thompson, has joined with SUNYA President Karen Hitchcock to express enthusiasm and commitment to working with the law enforcement profession to create what we are calling the Leadership Institute for New York State Law Enforcement Executives. Their objective, and that of the University's partner, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, is no less than to create an institution that will be a model for the rest of the nation, if not the world.
One last point that must be made in closing this introduction of the Leadership Institute is this: The history outlined above tells us that those reforms that do the most lasting good are those in which law enforcement executives work closely with state and municipal executives and legislatures to create. The creation of the New York State Police; the enactment of the standards and training statute of 1959; the creation of the accreditation program in 1988; the Safe Streets/Safe City Act of 1991; the money laundering statute of 2000 -- all came out of full and energetic engagement of the Legislature and the Executive in major issues of public safety.
If the reform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary currently underway in Northern Ireland ends up a success as we predict it will, it will largely be because the governments involved were deeply so, even to the extemt that the legislation effecting the changes went through an exhaustive, line-by-line examination in Parliament that lasted almost six months. Even at the municipal level, if the City of Albany has at last created a Civilian Complaint Review Board that resolves almost fifteen years of dissatisfaction with the Albany Police Department on the part of the city's African-American community, it is because the Common Council and the Mayor were deeply engaged in crafting it.
The Leadership Institute is so significant a reform that it must have the opportunity to gain that level of mandate. To do that, we must find a way for the various levels of government to participate in its authorship. Then, will municipalities and state agencies willingly afford their police executives and key staff members the time to take advantage of the program. Furthermore, there will be costs associated with the institute and participation that should rightly be a public charge. It has been suggested that we look to another New York innovation to fund this program.
Governor George E. Pataki, the Leaders of the Senate and Assembly, New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, the New York State District Attorneys Association and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police recently succeeded in giving New York a powerful new money laundering statute -- arguably the best such law in the nation. A major money laundering case in New York City -- the world's financial and banking capital -- last year involved over $8 billion in Russian monies. As this statute begins to generate revenue in the form of forfeited criminal assets, it would be highly appropriate to reinvest some of those proceeds in in police leadership accross the state. That is the way to ensure that every police executive from every community would have access to the Leadership Institute at no cost to local governments.
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