HOME . 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. And believe us, there is opportunity in that field -- both for rewarding employment and for the chance to make a difference.

The students were thrilled that month when we introduced them 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 speech (and witty jokes), 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. Click here for the sheet music.

Tom and the kids DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine celebrates thirty years of higher education in criminal justice with Albany High School students. (Photo by Ray Paulsen)

Terry O'Neill and the Schenectady Pipe Band The 1998 Northeast Champions, the Schenectady Pipe Band had the honor of saluting DEA Administrator and Schenectady Patroon Thomas A. Constantine with an original pipe tune composed in his honor. The tune was commissioned by the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Joseph S. Dominelli, Executive Director. The band poses here with the composer. (Photo by Ray Paulsen)

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. 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 informed us that an out-pouring of donations like ours 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 us put on a community event with an anti-drug and violence theme for the children of the Capital District. Plans are being laid for this event in the year 2000.

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.

Crime Victims Banner
Crime Victims' Rights Banner

That month, we also received a certificate from the US Office of Victim Services in Washington. OVS 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.

Paul Richer Terry O'Neill and Paul A. Richter savor a moment of triumph. The two collaborated on the successful 1998 campaign to enact the Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust Fund Law in New York. The bill creates an $8.5 million a year research program dedicated to finding a cure for paralyzing spinal cord injuries. Mr. Richter was shot and paralyzed by a criminal gunman while on duty near Lake Placid on September 30, 1973. His is an inspiring story of triumph over injury and adversity.

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 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.

Photos and captions:

kids and Troopers Students honor the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team. CNET is a program created by Mr. Tom Constantine to bring State Police muscle into hard-pressed inner-city neighborhoods. Speaking of muscle, the beefy guy on the right is not a professional wrestler, although he's Stone Cold Steve's worst nightmare. He is Inspector Pedro Perez of the New York State Police. Definitely one of New York's finest. (Photo by Terry O'Neill)

kids and Johnny Burke Students honor Albany County's star narcotics cop. The man in the middle is Inspector John Burke (Johnny, to his friends), Commander of the Albany County Sheriff's Department Narcotics Unit. John is the scion of a distinguished lineage in Albany law enforcement. Way to go, Johnny! (Photo by Paul DeSarbo)

kids and Mayor Jennings The Worshipful Gerald Jennings, Mayor of the great City of Albany. The Mayor accepted a token of the appreciation of Albany's teenagers for the courageous and dedicated service of the members of the Albany Police Department. Terry O'Neill, President of Constantine's Circus, Inc. is at the right. (Photo by Paul DeSarbo)

kids and John Bellizzi Mr. John J. Bellizzi, founder and Executive Director of the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers' Association accepts an award from Albany High School students celebrating the association's fortieth year and Mr. Bellizzi's fiftieth anniversary of service in the struggle against illegal drugs. Well done, Mr. Bellizzi. (Photo by Paul DeSarbo)

Finally, 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. They were very special people and we miss them very much.

Victims' Rights Rally

Constantine's Circus, Inc. President Terry O'Neill serves as Master of Ceremonies at the New York State observance of National Crime Victims Rights Week and the annual dedication of memorial bricks at the NYS Crime Victims Memorial at Empire State Plaza. Every year, bricks bearing the names of victims of violent crime are added to the memorial walkway. The color guard was provided by New York State Police Superintendent James W. McMahon.

Constantine's Circus, Inc. is an annual participant and supporter of the Aquidneck Island National Police Parade, hosted by the Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth Police Departments of Rhode Island, the most joyful celebration and expression of appreciation for America's law enforcement officers in the nation.

Terry O'Neill and John Bartis
Terry O'Neill poses with John Bartis, the driving force behind the parade and Parade 2000 Grand Marshall. John retired last year after a distinguished career as a narcotics investigator for the Newport PD. Thomas A. Constantine honored John for his service at DEA headquarters in 1998. John is now serves a narcotics investigator for the Collier County Sheriff's Department in Florida.

Terry O'Neill and Regina Berenchtein give an interview to New York City's Russian language television station. The occasion was a command performance of the Russian-American Kids' Circus for its friends and supporters. Yes, Regina talked him into attempting a death-defying feat.

In July, 2000, we received wonderful news in the form of a letter from Regina Berenchtein of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Regina, her husband Alexander and her mother Olga Partigul are immigrants from Russia. In the old country, the couple was associated with the world-famous and much-beloved Moscow Circus. They came to the United States with the dream of creating a world class circus for kids starring kids. They worked very long and hard and they have been a great success.

Constantine's Circus, Inc. has assisted their Russian-American Kids' Circus in learning how to approach various levels of government for funding to support their performances, offer scholarships to kids, organize a daycare program and obtain equipment and other resources. We only met them three years ago, but already the circus has grown. And like Constantine's Circus, it has begun to perform in more cities and towns than ever before and it is about to travel to its first foreign country.

In Regina's words:

Mr. Terry O'Neill, President
Constantine's Circus, Inc.
Albany, New York

Dear Terry:

Here we are again thanking Constantine's Circus for the support you never fail to give. The physical miles of distance has not diminished your fervor for our program, Certainly I know that we have found a true friend in you. We are encouraged by your trust and confidence in us.

As a result of your continued support, we are now at the point of beginning our national tour. Late in August and early in September we will be at the Epcot Center in Florida. We will be performing as part of "The Walt Disney Millennium Celebration." From there it will be on to Maryland, Chicago, California, and eventually Canada.

We could not do so well were it not for organizations like Constantine's Circus. You are a precious gem in our treasury of friends.

Appreciatively yours,
Regina Berenchtein, Executive Director
The New Way Circus Center, Inc.
1202 Avenue P
Brooklyn, New York 11229
718-266-0202 (Also for FAX)

In August 2000, we attended the annual meeting of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police in Westchester County. On the second afternoon of the conference, we were joined by Professor Tom Constantine. That evening, he led a huge motorcade accross the county as we headed for an outing at the county-owned amusement park. As the motorcade snaked through neighborhoods populated with recent immigrants from Mexico, Colombia, Salvador and Peru, bystanders asked us what was going on. "It's Professor Tom Constantine home from the war on drugs!" And the crowd went wild.

The next morning, the Professor unveiled his important new initiative -- a Leadership Institute for Police Executives, which he will be building in partnership with the police chiefs and sheriffs of the State of New York and the learned professors of the State University. Sounds like another home run.

Joe & Florence Dominelli

The Chief of Chiefs -- and his Chief. Chief and Mrs. Joe Dominelli enjoy the barbecue at the NYSACOP annual meeting. This team has been hosting our conferences with style and conviviality for as many years as "Chief Joe" has been the Executive Director of the association.

September brought us to our favorite annual event, the Annual Reunion of the Association of Former New York State Troopers. State Police alumni from all corners of the state gathered for a weekend of fun and reminiscing at the Bonnie Castle Resort in Alexandria Bay. President Mike Doney of the Black Horse Chapter presided over the annual business meeting and a splendid banquet.

Terry and Mike Doney

Piper gets paid. Terry O'Neill poses with AFNYST President Mike Doney and honor guard after piping in the dignitaries at the Reunion Banquet.

The Superintendent's representative brought us up to date on Division news. Greg Wildridge of the Niagara Frontier Chapter told everyone of the happy news of the recent enactment of pension enhancement legislation -- a cause to which the late Pat O'Reilly devoted so much energy and work. Greg's attendance, by the way, was of the above and beyond variety -- he had spent the previous week in the hospital laid up with a painful infection. He has since fully recovered. Morey Gavin reported on the activities of the Former Troopers Helping Hands (and everyone got a nice sweatshirt with its logo). Plans were laid for for the 2001 Fiftieth Anniversary Reunion to be held in Albany. Constantine's Circus, Inc. will be cooperating with the Capital District Chapter to make that a very special occasion. We also note that the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police will be celebrating its centennial around the same time.

Terry and Pirates

Terry and the Pirates -- also known as the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Association of Former New York State Troopers, who served in A Troop. Many of these guys served with Professor Constantine when he was just getting started. The stories they could (and did) tell!

The Aquidneck Island National Police Parade stepped off again this year on May 6 in Newport Rhode Island -- a picture perfect day. Constantine's Circus, Inc. was represented in the parade's first division marching with the Massachusetts contingent of Concerns of Police Survivors and regional Chaplain Ray "Dad" Payne. We were pleased to spend some quality time with our old friend Colonel Ed Culhane, now in his 11th year as Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and looking none the worse for wear.

Col. Ed Culhane and Rhode Island's Finest
Col. Ed Culhane and Rhode Island's Finest

Sad news came to us of the death last October of Kurt Hulbert of the Connecticut State Police. Kurt was the driving force behind the creation of the Connecticut State Police Pipes and Drums, a truly outstanding musical organization and a credit to law enforcement. Kurt went in for surgery to remove a brain tumor last spring, but the operation was not successful. The Officers and Directors of Constantine's Circus, Inc. have voted a gift to the pipe band in Kurt's memory and directed that a picture of him be posted on our web site.

Kurt Hulbert and members of the Connecticut State Police Pipes and Drums

Kurt Hulbert (second from left) and members of the Connecticut State Police Pipes and Drums at the National Police Memorial Week observances in May 1996 -- the way we want to remember him

tyger jumping through hoop

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