The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has conducted periodic surveys of alcohol and substance abuse among students statewide. Surveys were made of 5th and 6th graders and 7th through 12th graders. Twenty-two years of data beginning in 1978 indicate that in the long term, use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances has been in decline. OASAS attributes this to the effectiveness of prevention programs. Kids who get through these critical years without acquiring patterns of abuse, as ours have increasingly appear to be, are less likely to develop antisocial behavioral problems as they grow older.
At this time, rates of violent and property crime in New York have followed the national trend and been in steady decline for seven years. New York's law enforcement leaders have maintained that there is a direct correlation between the prevalence of drug abuse and the incidence of crime, both violent and nonviolent.
Assuming that the trend in youth drug and alcohol use and the decline in crime rates are related, this is good news indeed. But we must be mindful that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) continues to maintain that the American people are spending $58 billion a year on America's drug habit. We are also told most insistently and eloquently by former Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas A. Constantine that the complex of foreign-based drug trafficking organizations that supply that drug habit is more powerful and more dangerous than any criminal organization in history. In both Colombia and Mexico, the national governments have effectively lost their ability to prevent these organizations from producing and exporting dangerous drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. In Colombia, drug traffickers operate under the protection of an armed insurgency that has excluded government armed forces and police from a tract of the country half the size of New England. That insurgency is believed to sustain itself -- an army of some 12,000 guerrillas -- entirely through "taxes" it levies on peasant farmers who grow coca and opium poppies and the traffickers who process and export the drugs.
At the same time, organized crime has gone global with unprecedentedly formidable new criminal organizations arising out of the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Soviet weapons stockpiles are disappearing from Russian military installations and reappearing in the armories of the leftist guerrilla movements in Colombia where they are used to protect drug production and trafficking. The small nations of the Caribbean Basin are vulnerable to criminal control. Africa and Asia have become home to their own versions of the Mafia. Rogue states like Libya, North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran shelter terrorist groups who traffic in narcotics to support their activities. Drug trafficking is only a sideline to many of these organizations.
The Irish Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney recently published a powerful new translation of the oldest poem in English literature, Beowulf. In that tale, the hero Beowulf faces Grendel, a horrifying creature who hates all the beautiful things that men and women have created, who lurks out in the darkness and attacks murderously after nightfall. Beowulf confronts and slays this creature to the joy of everyone. But, the story goes, Grendel had a mother who was even more horrifying -- and now vengeful, as well. At the moment the Danes celebrated their deliverance, she struck.
We call this initiative "Project Beowulf". We want to link and emphasize the long-term decline in substance and alcohol abuse among New York's young people and the more recent gains against crime in our communities with the nation's epic struggle to keep drugs and crime out of our communities and to preserve our democratic institutions from the threat of international organized crime. We know these threats exist. At the moment when we now can celebrate the gains we have made against drug abuse and crime, we will not let down our guard.
II. Profile of the Region
New York's four-county (Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties) Capital District centers on the city of Albany. The city sits on the banks of the Hudson River. Interstate highways link Albany to New York City to the south, Montreal to the north, Boston to the east and Buffalo and other points to the west. The city boasts a recently expanded international airport, an expanding commuter rail terminal across the river in Rensselaer and the Ports of Albany and Rensselaer.
As the hub of so much transportation and commerce, the Capital District is a major crossroads for the transportation of illegal drugs. It is also a strategic location for drug interdiction that has been compared the strategic military significance that Fort Ticonderoga occupied on Lake Champlain during the Revolution. That strategic value has been fully realized by law enforcement as has been spectacularly demonstrated on many occasions. The Trailways bus terminal in downtown Albany is the site of routine arrests of drug couriers by the Narcotics Division of the Albany County Sheriff's Department. In the early months of 1999, the Mayor of Albany announced 173 narcotics arrests over a period of some four months as the result of a coordinated multi-agency operation. In November 1993, 85 people were arrested on drug trafficking charges on a single morning in a Schenectady neighborhood. That operation was led by the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team and resulted in substantially reduced levels of crime in the whole of Schenectady County that were still being felt four years later.
III. The Resources
The city of Albany is home to the state's seven major criminal justice agencies and the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force. The New York State Police, the Department of Correctional Services, the Commission of Correction, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Crime Victims Board, the Division of Parole and the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives all have headquarters in the Capital. The State Police maintain a world class Forensic Investigative Center and an academy that houses a museum of the history of the State Police. The Division of Criminal Justice Services maintains a state-of-the-art Automated Fingerprint Identification System and oversees the administration of tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grant monies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently opened a major regional office in Albany. The US Drug Enforcement Administration maintains offices in Albany as well.
In addition to the state and federal agencies, there is a plethora of criminal justice-related organizations in the Capital District. The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Sheriffs' Association, the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers' Association and a variety of police and corrections labor organizations all maintain offices, produce publications and organize training and conference opportunities for their members and others. The State Police host a highly regarded annual conference for homicide investigators that draws attendance from around the world.
The Capital District is also home to prestigious institutions of higher education in criminal justice and law. At least two community colleges offer associate's degree programs in criminal justice. Rockefeller College School of Criminal Justice, the first graduate school of its kind, is consistently ranked among the top graduate schools in the nation. Its graduates include many top law enforcement executives including Thomas A. Constantine, who recently retired after serving as superintendent of the New York State Police and Administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Mr. Constantine has joined the faculty of the State University of New York and lectures in the Capital District. He is a towering figure in the region because of his prestigious career and because he is a major voice calling attention to the rising power of international organized crime. Albany Law School, a part of Union University, has increasingly become a resource to the criminal justice community, offering seminars, lectures, continuing legal education courses and special programs such as a domestic violence project to interact with professionals and the community.
The government criminal justice agencies are major employers in the Capital District, with a wide variety of career opportunities for young people to consider. The colleges are a gateway to many more. The vigorous presence of criminal justice related professional associations adds to the rich mixture of opportunity to broaden one's horizons. The conferences, seminars, public forums and other opportunities for learning and professional networking that all of these institutions collectively provide offer another resource for bringing young people a broader perspective from which to contemplate career options.
>IV. The Historical Context of the Problem
The Capital District is more generally the home of our state government. It is also the historic site of the opening salvo in the war on drugs as we have come to know it today. In 1973, then Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller abruptly abandoned the public health approach to the growing incidence of drug abuse and addiction and forced through the Legislature the changes in our Penal Law that came to be known as the Rockefeller drug laws. The centerpiece of this Draconian program was the mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years to life in state prison for felony drug offenders. This started an unprecedented boom in New York prison population and prison construction. The following year, President Richard M. Nixon followed New York's lead and proposed similarly harsh laws at the federal level. He even organized a whole new and separate federal law enforcement agency charged with combating domestic and foreign drug crime known as the Drug Enforcement Administration.
During the mid-1980s, the crack cocaine phenomenon and accompanying sharply rising levels of violent crime led to a similar paroxysm of Draconian lawmaking. Prompted by the crack-related death of basketball star Len Bias, Congress enacted sentencing laws that differentiated between powder cocaine and the cheaper, smokeable crack cocaine, treating the latter far more harshly. State legislatures followed suit. Prison populations continued to soar.
Other forms of extraordinary legislative initiatives were also motivated by the converging phenomena of drugs, violent crime, laundering of drug profits and the rise of powerful and highly organized foreign based drug trafficking organizations. Summary asset seizure and forfeiture laws were adopted, the like of which had never been seen in American law. Drug testing of employees in public and private employment settings became common. In 1989, the United States invaded Panama to arrest General Manuel Antonio Noriega, the self-appointed head of state and protector of drug traffickers and money launderers.
Law enforcement agencies took it upon themselves to get into the prevention business with police officers going to schools as D.A.R.E. instructors and ultimately School Resource Officers. Advertising with anti-drug messages became ubiquitous in every medium.
In the mid-1990s, violent and property crime began to decline steadily -- as of 1999, for seven years in a row. This was a nationwide trend and it is certainly true in New York generally and the Capital District in particular. Many reasons for the decline have been posited and certainly the huge number of incarcerated felons contributed significantly. The prevention programs and messages helped. But there were other factors, including a surging economy, an aging population and the burnout of the crack phenomenon spurred, in part, by the horrific violence and degradation witnessed by a rising generation of young people who had personal reason to avoid the stuff.
For nearly thirty years, criminal justice policy in this country has been driven by a sense of continuing drug-related emergency characterized by violence, corruption, the spread of diseases such as AIDS, addiction, a proliferation of the varieties and potencies of drugs of abuse and the rise of huge and powerful international criminal conspiracies that controlled the production and distribution of illegal drugs and amassed a vast capital laundered and transferred through corrupted financial institutions using the latest in high technology communications.
With violent crime in decline and the rate of drug abuse apparently stabilized, there is now considerable debate over changes in drug policy. In New York, there has emerged an unprecedented movement toward repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, in particular. That movement follows upon successful expressions of public will toward change through initiatives voted on in California and Arizona, then in other states. In New York within the past year, the Governor, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the Senate Majority Leader, significant voices in the Assembly Majority and many responsible and respected community leaders have stated that the time has come to mitigate the harshness of the Penal Law provisions that give our criminal justice policy its character. Though no consensus has yet emerged, the issue has been engaged.
So momentous a phenomenon in our social history as thirty years of escalating communal fear and thirty years of hardening criminal justice response merits a debate that goes deep into the community. To have that debate, the community must be given an opportunity to review the history of the war on drugs, to hear from people like former State Senator John Dunne who voted for the Rockefeller drug laws in 1973 and now wants them scaled back; Fr. Peter Young who once advised Governor Rockefeller on drug treatment policy and has spent many long years helping addicts who landed in prison through the painful and difficult -- and not always successful -- process of turning their lives around and Professor Thomas A. Constantine, a forty-year veteran of the struggle who rose from an Erie County Sheriff's Deputy in 1960 to be both Superintendent of the New York State Police and Administrator of the DEA and who implemented some of the most effective community drug enforcement programs ever developed and presided over the opening of a world-class scientific crime laboratory paid for entirely with monies forfeited by drug traffickers. All of them have compelling messages. But Professor Constantine reminds us of a stark and chilling fact: though he presided over the dismantling of the notorious Cali cocaine cartel in the mid-1990s, new and far more powerful criminal enterprises that traffic in drugs and many other commodities have come into being and pose the gravest threat to our peace, prosperity and democratic institutions.
As America's drug and crime problem evolves and elaborates into a battle against globalized international organized crime and terrorism, the sense of emergency will return and Professor Constantine's will not be the only voice calling attention to it. The current debate over the Rockefeller drug laws, the referendums being voted on in many states and the recent action of the U.S. Congress to overhaul the sweeping criminal assets forfeiture laws provide an extraordinary opportunity to assess the effectiveness of three decades of response to the drug problem and gain knowledge and insight that will help us as we prepare to face the challenge before us.
IV. Concerns of Youth
The debate on the future of drug policy that is now going on in New York certainly reaches the ears of young people. Those same young people have been exposed as well in recent years to shocking incidences of police violence arising out of drug enforcement contexts. The Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond cases all had something to do with drug enforcement. As the trial of the officers charged with Mr. Diallo's homicide was held in Albany, young people in the Capital District saw and heard about the New York City Police Department's Street Crimes Unit, the "stop and frisk" policy and allegations that Mr. Diallo, a black African immigrant, fit a "profile" of a drug dealer. If they happened to visit the environs of the courthouse, they saw demonstrators who dearly wanted a conviction and supporters of the police who just as badly wanted an acquittal. They certainly were exposed to bitter complaints by black and Latino citizens that the war on drugs was simply an excuse to harass and intimidate them and their children.
In the midst of all of this, the continuing story of the eventually substantiated practice of singling out black and Latino motorists on the New Jersey Turnpike by the New Jersey State Police made national headlines. Highway drug interdiction was the justification for these practices. In the Capital District, both Albany and Schenectady were reacting to serious dissatisfaction with the city police departments leading to calls for drastic action ranging from the establishment of civilian complaint review boards, to calls for federal investigations of allegations of police brutality and civil rights violations, to calls for the resignation of Schenectady's police chief.
One suggests that young people coming of age today are doing so in under very confusing circumstances. Crime has been declining, but drug use nationally continues, according to Drug Czar Barry R. McCaffrey, at the rate of $58 billion a year spent by the American people on illegal drugs. It continues even though more people are in prison for longer sentences for drug offenses that ever before in history and everybody knows it. It continues even though anti-drug abuse advertising is ubiquitous in all the media courtesy of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. It continues even though its disparate impact -- sometimes with deadly force -- on members of America's minority groups and the families of their communities is so obvious as to need no documentation to make the case. There's no trout in the milk, here. There's a whale. What is a young person to make of it when there are also credible voices calling for the legalization of drugs?
VI. Profile of Youth Substance and Alcohol Use
The four-county Capital District has a combined public and private primary and secondary school enrollment of about 132,000 students.
The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has conducted six statewide surveys of youth alcohol, tobacco and other drug use over the past 22 years – 1978, 1983, 1990, 1994 and 1998. The most recent published data is from 1994. Forthcoming statistics gathered in 1998 are expected to continue an overall downward trend.
The four counties of the Capital District are included in Health Services Region 5; a 17 county region designated the Northeastern Region of the state. Statewide, OASAS surveys indicate that the long-term trend in substance use is downward. More specifically, the long-term findings generally show declines in the use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances among 7th through 12th graders since 1978. Except for a slightly higher rate of the use of tobacco products, students in the Northeastern Region have no higher a rate of substance use than the statewide average. 76% of Northeastern Region students have had experience drinking an alcoholic beverage compared to 77% statewide; 32% report ever using marijuana as compared to 35% statewide. Inhalant use, however, was somewhat higher -- 29% versus 21% statewide. Substances are certainly common enough in the school environment in the region. Of students in grades 7 through 12, 73% report having seen marijuana smoked and 58% were actually offered marijuana.
The OASAS surveys for the region indicate that 5th and 6th grade students who want information or help with a drug or alcohol problem prefer going to a parent for it -- 70% of them. They are as likely to turn to a peer (58%) or a program or counselor outside of school (56%). 7th through 12th graders are far more likely to obtain what information they want or need about substance or alcohol use from their peers. Fully 73% would go to "friends" first and 46% to a sibling. 41% will go to parents. Also of note is that students who want information or need help grow less inclined to seek it in a school setting as they get older. Obviously, if they are inclined to seek help from peers, providing help effectively means that there must be a cadre of peers who are equipped to influence them in a positive manner. That's asking a lot, considering the confusing state of adult attitudes about drugs today.
VII. Project Beowulf
Our proposal is to create a role for the region's young people to get involved in the growing debate over fundamental assumptions and structural elements of drug control policy. Over a three-year period, while the policy debate develops, we will organize three community events for young people.
In the fall of 2001, there will be a conference in the Capital District that will give participants an opportunity to meet and interact with all kinds of players in the field of drug control. It will include prevention, treatment and law enforcement agencies, organizations and community based groups. We will ask Professor Thomas A. C onstantine to give a keynote address that will be videotaped and distributed to schools and youth groups throughout the region. At this conference, the projects for the next two years will be announced.
The first project, for the year 2002, will be to organize an exhibition in cooperation with one or more of our museums. It will be a history of organized crime and drug trafficking in New York. It will be built around the historic facts that the New York State Police exposed the existence of the traditional Italian-American Mafia for the first time in 1957, exposed the infiltration of the state by highly organized operatives of the Cali cocaine cartel in 1991, another first, and that Professor Constantine, a State Police alumnus, as head of the DEA cooperated with the law enforcement authorities of Colombia to bring down the leadership of the Cali organization in 1995. We will invite General Rosso Jose Serrano, Colombia's colorful and incorruptible top narcotics cop, to host the opening of the exhibition. These State Police accomplishments will be the armature around which we will build an exhibition that will vividly chronicle the rise of organized crime, its involvement with drugs, and the globalization that is its emerging new manifestation. It will also demonstrate that our law enforcement agencies have shown in the past that they can successfully confront and defeat even the wealthiest, most secretive and most entrenched criminal organizations and they will do so again.
For the year 2003, the thirtieth anniversary of the enactment of the Rockefeller drug laws, we will have a communal commemoration built around the unveiling of a monument to the heroes of the war against drugs. The fundraising campaign will have been kicked off a year previously. Albany sculptor Hy Rosen has created a design inspired by the loss of five young DEA agents in a plane crash in the Huallaga Valley in Peru. They died in 1994. At the time, the Huallaga Valley was the source of 60% of the world's cocaine. Because of their sacrifice and the resolve of the government of Peru, the amount of coca under cultivation in that nation has been considerably reduced.
During the entire period of the project, the coalition will cooperate with the criminal justice agencies and related resources to create opportunities for the region's young people to learn about their missions and capabilities and familiarize them with the career and higher education opportunities that they provide.
VIII. Constantine's Circus, Inc.
The applicant entity and organizer of the coalition is Constantine's Circus, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation organized in 1997.
Constantine's Circus, Inc. was inspired by a November 1993 drug sweep in a beleaguered neighborhood in Schenectady. The operation, headed by then New York State Police Superintendent Thomas A. Constantine, netted over one hundred drug dealers. It was a great day in the history of The Long, Gray Line, as our New York State Troopers have been known since their founding in 1917.
"Operation: Crackdown," as it was called, was also a stunning example of Mr. Constantine's winning strategy of working closely and collaboratively with other police agencies to identify the drug dealers in a neighborhood and arrest them all in a single, coordinated operation. His program was called the Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams or CNET. (He later created the similar Mobile Enforcement Teams or MET for the Drug Enforcement Administration.) Residents came out and cheered. It was a major media event and it came on the eve of Mr. Constantine's appointment by President Bill Clinton to be head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The next day, Albany Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun wisely commented: "Taking back the streets makes everyone feel good, but the real challenge is making the good feeling last. Otherwise, six months from now we'll be wondering what Constantine's circus was all about."
Albany lawyer and crime prevention activist Terry O'Neill resolved to make that "good feeling last" by creating a vehicle to help kids learn about the relationship between drug abuse, communal violence and intolerance. With the help of retired New York State Trooper Lee Thomas, pharmacist Raymond Zywot, journalist Sam Cramer and student of government Paul Arnason, he organized a corporation -- Constantine's Circus, Inc. Its goal is nothing less than to convince young people that they can and must play their own part in our struggle to resist and defeat drugs, violence and intolerance.
The corporation's goal is to get kids talking -- using stories, plays, the Internet, even the comic books they love as the springboard -- openly about drugs, violence and intolerance among themselves and with their adult mentors. They will also be shown what is going on in the world as the tragic consequences of America's shameful and inexcusable drug habit. They will learn about some of the efforts that are being undertaken in communities, by law enforcement and by state, local and national governments to combat the powerful world-wide criminal conspiracies that produce and distribute drugs and engage in every imaginable form of criminal activity. This knowledge will help them to realize that they can help win the struggle against violence and intolerance and the drug abuse and nihilism they engender. The better world that they inherit will be the world that they themselves will help to make.
IX. Coalition Building
This narrative of the activities of Constantine's Circus, Inc. tells the story of our efforts to help other organizations and agencies in our community. This has been the means of creating continuing relationships and building a coalition.
Beginning in September 1998, Constantine's Circus, Inc. teamed up with teachers at Albany High School on a school-to-work program for young people interested in careers in public safety and criminal justice. The purpose was to show them that there is opportunity in that field -- both for varied and rewarding careers and for the chance to make a difference.
The students were thrilled that month to be introduced to America's top narcotics enforcement officer, the Honorable Thomas A. Constantine, head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Mr. Constantine was the keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary banquet for the Rockefeller College School of Criminal Justice, a prestigious graduate school located in Albany. He was a 1971 graduate of the institution.
Not only did the students get to meet and pose for a photo with Mr. Constantine, but they heard his keynote address which set the history of our struggle against drugs and violent crime in historic perspective, met some of the most famous scholars in the field of criminal justice, enjoyed a good meal and heard the champion Schenectady Pipe Band play a tune composed in Mr. Constantine's honor.
In February, we learned that there had been a burglary at Centennial A.M.E. Zion Church in East Buffalo. The 3 and 4-year-old children of the congregation had just raised a record $5000 to support church programs in the community. Every penny was stolen. East Buffalo was the site of Mr. Constantine's memorable "Operation Crackdown" in August of 1992, an operation that brought a drug-fueled violent crime wave to a screeching halt. The Board of Directors of Constantine's Circus, Inc. authorized a contribution of $100 to the church in honor of Mr. Constantine. Pastor Maceo Freeman and the children later reported that an out-pouring of like donations had restored and exceeded what was taken.
March found us in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, heart of a thriving Russian-American community. We were the guests of the Russian-American Kids Circus at a command performance. The circus has pledged to come to Albany to help in future community events with an anti-drug and violence theme for the children of the Capital District.
In May, we marched in the Aquidneck Island National Police Parade in Newport, Rhode Island. Spectators on the parade route -- an estimated 80,000 of them -- were asking what Constantine's Circus, Inc. might be. "You'll find out," we told one and all.
Later that month, we contributed to the observances for National Crime Victims' Rights Week by presenting an organizational banner to the newly incorporated Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims' Rights, Inc. at New York's official ceremony at the Crime Victims' Memorial in Albany.
Also in May, we received a certificate from the U.S. Office of Victim Services in Washington. O.V.S. had noted our nomination of Paul A. Richter of Albany, a heroic New York State Trooper who was shot and paralyzed while on duty in 1973, for the Justice Department's annual Victim Services Award. In nominating Paul, we cited his exemplary dedication to others injured by violent crime (The crack wars of the 1980s left hundreds of inner-city victims of gun violence with paralyzing spinal cord injuries.) and his extraordinary accomplishment in creating a medical research trust fund to find a cure for spinal cord injury paralysis. He has shown that there are ways in which we can undo some of the damage done by crimes of violence.
The Fall of 1999 brought the fortieth annual convention of the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers' Association to Albany. Over five hundred working narcotic officers from dozens of countries converged on our city for training, professional networking and socializing.
Albany High School students were hosted by Constantine's Circus, Inc. at the association's awards ceremony. The students had the memorable opportunity to present their own awards to individuals representing the Albany County Sheriff's Department Narcotics Unit, the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the City of Albany Police Department (represented by the Worshipful Gerald Jennings, Mayor) and Mr. John Bellizzi, founder and Executive Director of the association. As the result of the contacts made that day, internship opportunities were arranged for the students with a number of Capital District criminal justice agencies.
As a year-end gift to the Mid-Hudson Crime Prevention Association, Inc., the biggest and strongest community crime prevention organization in New York, based in Middletown, Orange County, we presented an organizational banner. The banner is dedicated to the memory of Bob and Shirley Cutler, an elderly couple from Middletown, New York, who had helped get both the association and the Triad crime against the elderly program going in New York. Bob passed away in 1995 and Shirley in 1998.
More recently, we joined coalition partner the Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims Rights for the annual state observance of National Crime Victims Memorial week. On April 15, our President served as master of ceremonies at the annual dedication of memorial bricks at the Crime Victims Memorial at Empire State Plaza.
At the time of this writing, funding from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services has enabled us to redesign and rededicate our Internet web site. When the redesign is completed it will serve as the official web site for Project Beowulf.
X. Key Personnel
Terry O'Neill, founder and president of Constantine's Circus, Inc., is an Albany, New York-based lawyer, public relations consultant and freelance writer. He is the son of a Connecticut State Trooper, the grandnephew of six members of the Bridgeport, Connecticut Police Department and the great-grandson of a County Waterford police constable.
Mr. O'Neill, who delights in one-upping Professor Constantine, also counts as ancestors such legendary warriors as Conn of the Hundred Battles, whose name speaks for itself; Niall of the Nine Hostages, who chased the Roman legions out of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, England, the Isle of Man, Brittany and all the way across Gaul to banks of the Rhine; Daniel O'Neill who fought in France with the famed Fighting Irish 69th New York Regiment during WW I; Daniel's son, also Daniel O'Neill who, emulating Niall, in the next war chased the Nazis all the way to Berlin; and Master Sergeant James V. O'Neill who, during WW II at age 26, was the youngest master sergeant in the Army Air Corps and later, in support of an airlift of Jewish refugees to Palestine, a hero of the founding of Israel. He thinks Beowulf might be a distant relation. Mr. O'Neill himself is a veteran of the United States Navy, as was his late father Joseph and his younger brother Sean.
Mr. O'Neill studied Western Civilization, including a course in which Beowulf was required reading and Woody Allen was not, at Providence College, earned a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Connecticut and read Law at Albany Law School.
In 1986, Mr. O'Neill joined the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services as a legal advisor to the state's police executives. He later served as Special Assistant to John J. Poklemba, the state Director of Criminal Justice. He represented the Director in responding to violent unrest on the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation during 1990, playing a key role in the creation of a Mohawk police force.
In 1993, Mr. O'Neill introduced the Triad program of enhanced police service to the elderly to New York. In December 1999, Governor George E. Pataki took Triad statewide by signing a historic agreement with New York's police chiefs, sheriffs and senior citizens. Mr. O'Neill also serves pro bono as Counsel to the Mid-Hudson Crime Prevention Association, the Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims' Rights and the Coalition for Safer Schools.
Mr. O'Neill is an advocate for children and in 1990 championed a state law creating a training program for juvenile officers. In 1994 he suggested legislation that created a fund to enhance public education and prevention programs to combat child abduction and exploitation. In 1999, he helped Doug and Mary Lyall, parents of Suzanne Lyall, a State University of New York student who disappeared in March 1998, get Chapter 22 -- the College Campus Security Act -- enacted.
Mr. O'Neill is especially dedicated to the welfare and dignity of retired law enforcement officers, the legacy of his friendship with the late Patrick F. O'Reilly, who fought hard for pension equity for his brethren. Mr. O'Neill joined a group of retired Troopers in the 1993 campaign to create a privately funded monument -- the Gray Rider -- to members of the New York State Police. In 1998, he helped retired and disabled New York State Trooper Paul A. Richter get a law enacted that will raise millions of dollars to fund research to find a cure for spinal cord injury paralysis. He is eagerly looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association of Former New York State Troopers in Albany in September 2001.
Mr. O'Neill has long been writing verses and stories celebrating members of New York's law enforcement community and chronicling the struggle against illegal drugs. His work has appeared in police publications throughout the country. He is the author of a book of children's verses with a message of respect for law and law enforcement officers called Constantine's Circus. A play, several other books and a movie screenplay are currently under development.
Mr. O'Neill is a prolific composer of music for the highland bagpipe. Many of his tunes are named for famous cops. The Irish Pipe Band Association, headquartered in New Ross, County Wicklow, published his signature tune "Thomas A. Constantine" in 1998.
Of Professor Constantine, Mr. O'Neill says: "He's my teacher -- and that makes him my biggest and strongest and best friend."
XI. The Southern Cross
On August 27, 1994, in the first year of Professor Constantine's administration of the DEA, there was a tragic plane crash in the Huallaga Valley in the Peruvian Andes. Five young DEA Special Agents were killed. They had been on routine patrol in the remote area of the mountains where some sixty percent of the world's coca is grown. Their names were Frank S. Fernandez, Jr., Meredith Thompson, Jay W. Seale, Juan C. Vars and Frank S. Wallace, Jr.
These young people were from hometowns all across America. They epitomized the spirit, courage, dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who serve the American people in the struggle against drug trafficking, violence and intolerance. In fact, in the years since their sacrifice, coca cultivation in Peru has declined significantly.
The Board of Directors of Constantine's Circus, Inc. consulted sculptor Hy Rosen, the artist who created the Gray Rider for the New York State Police and a monument that stands in New York's state capital in tribute to the women of the state who have served in the armed forces, to develop a concept for a tribute to the five lost agents. The theme selected was that of the Southern Cross, a constellation of five bright stars that is visible in the Southern Hemisphere and that serves mariners as a guide much as the North Star does in the Northern Hemisphere.
This project, to be unveiled and dedicated thirty years after the enactment of the Rockefeller drug laws by the State of New York, will provide a great communal event to commemorate what we hope will be remembered as one of America's great achievements -- to face down the epidemic of drug addiction and violent crime that swept through our nation bringing suffering and misery to millions, but mostly to the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, and to bring it under control without damaging our system of constitutional government and the rule of law.
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CONSTANTINE'S CIRCUS, INC.
PO Box 7223
Albany, NY 12224-0223