Thomas A. Constantine is a descendant of one Constantine O'Brien, a mighty warrior who flourished in County Clare, Ireland around the year 1150 A.D.
Mr. Constantine was born in Buffalo, New York on December 23, 1938. He was educated in Catholic schools there. In the late 1950s, he won an appointment as a Midshipman at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point, NY. While he left before graduating to marry his sweetheart, the former Ruth Cryan, Mr. Constantine adopted the motto of the academy -- Acta Non Verba or Deeds not Words -- and lived by it through the whole of his career.
He began his law enforcement career in 1960 as a deputy with the Erie County Sheriff's Department. In 1962, having been recruited by the great Patrick F. O'Reilly, he entered the New York State Police as a uniform trooper. He was graduated first in his recruit class. Over the course of his career as a trooper, Mr. Constantine rose steadily through the ranks; and when Governor Mario Cuomo appointed him top trooper, he was the first Superintendent of the New York State Police in over 30 years to have risen through all the ranks.
As superintendent, Mr. Constantine oversaw a law enforcement agency of nearly 4,800 uniformed and investigative members and civilian support personnel. During his tenure, the State Police was honored in 1992 as the first recipient of the Governor's Excelsior Award, an award for excellence in service to the people of New York State. In October 1994, Mr. Constantine received the Governor's Law Enforcement Executive of the Year award.
His tenure as Superintendent marked the emergence of the State Police as a major force in combating drug trafficking. Mr. Constantine instituted the Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams that projected State Police muscle into many hard-pressed communities. The hallmark of this program was close cooperation with local police authorities. In 1991, he presided over the exposure of the far-flung operations of Colombia's Cali cocaine cartel in New York after a six-year investigation.
Record seizures of criminal assets accumulated during these years made possible the construction of a state-of-the-art crime laboratory at the State Police Headquarters in Albany.
Mr. Constantine set a great example for all law enforcement officers and for young people everywhere by educating and improving himself. While working full-time and supporting his large and growing family, he completed his undergraduate work, became one of the first five members of the State Police to earn a graduate degree on the job, completed academic work toward his doctorate, created a graduate degree program for members of the State Police and raised the higher education requirements for its new recruits. In a rapidly changing and increasingly culturally diverse world, his example has had a lasting impact on the reputation and effectiveness of the New York State Police. That, we believe, is Mr. Constantine's greatest and most enduring achievement.
Confirmed in his appointment as Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in March 1994, Mr. Constantine oversaw a workforce of over 7,000 Special Agents and support staff, and DEA offices in all 50 states and over 50 countries. He created new programs to foster closer cooperation with state and local law enforcement agencies and to enhance their ability to fight violent drug crime.
He directed DEA resources to assist foreign governments to dismantle the world's most powerful drug trafficking organizations. Mr. Constantine's encyclopedic knowledge and long experience in combating organized crime, together with the courage and resolve of the law enforcement authorities of Colombia, brought down in 1995 the wealthy and ruthless leaders of the Cali cartel, finishing the story he brought to light in New York in 1991. For that service, the government and people of Colombia presented him with a medal at a ceremony in Washington, DC in the fall of 1999.
Mr. Constantine also had time to open a new DEA Academy in Quantico, VA and a fascinating museum chronicling the struggle against illegal drugs at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, VA.
Mr. Constantine has won numerous awards for his contributions to his profession. He was elected to and served on the Board of Officers for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) from October 1992 to April 1994. In 1997, IACP's members voted him their Honorary President. In 1999, Mr. Constantine was accorded a very rare honor indeed when he was made an Honorary Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Previous recipients include Presidents Eisenhower and Bush. FBI Director Louis Freeh declared him: "An American hero."
In July, 1999, Mr. Constantine retired from public life. He is now enjoying a little bit of heaven on Earth as a Public Service Professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy in Albany, New York. He also serves on to the Board of Directors of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Professor Constantine's fans admire and applaud his decision at the height of his career to take on the most important job there is -- being a teacher.
And he finally has time to treat his six children, eleven grandchildren and his lovely wife Ruth to an occasional visit to an ice cream parlor; something they didn't get to do very often over the years. Don't overdo it, Professor!
Now, if you thought the story might end here, think again -- and click here for good measure!
You may send the Professor a greeting at his e-mail address: TomTyger@aol.com.
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CONSTANTINE'S CIRCUS, INC.
PO Box 7223
Albany, NY 12224-0223