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The Constantine Institute

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Legislative Testimony 2011






The Constantine Institute, Inc.

102 Willett Street

Albany, New York 12210













The Constantine Institute, Inc. has been organized to promote the highest constitutional, legal, ethical and professional standards in law enforcement, to encourage innovation in public safety strategy, tactics, training and education and to foster a seamless continuum of cooperation, support and mutual respect among public safety agencies and organizations.

We offer these comments in reaction to the governor’s Public Protection Budget proposal and make some suggestions of our own for the Legislature to consider.


The concept of community policing has been widely known for nearly three decades. It is based on a police agency’s building and working in partnership with community stakeholders to identify and solve problems that degrade quality of life and create an environment in which crime thrives. It has never been systematically promoted by the state of New York. Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal offers nothing to suggest that he will change that.

The epidemic of drug-fueled violence that took hold in the 1980s resulted in the lion’s share of public safety resources being invested in prison capacity during the administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo. The Pataki years saw the emergence of Operation IMPACT, the state’s primary local assistance program for law enforcement derived from the widely influential, statistics-driven, technology-based policing made popular under the administration of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani under the name CompStat in the mid-1990s.

The popularity of Giuliani-style enforcement nationwide has effectively driven police agencies apart from the communities they serve and stymied the growth of the community policing movement. It has also, as research published this past year by Dr. Eli Silverman and Dr. John Eterno has indicated, resulted in downgrading of felonies and discouraging victims to file complaints by commanders who are under relentless pressure to report steadily declining rates of crime.

Leading figures in contemporary policing are saying loudly and clearly that police/community partnership has become attenuated. Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealafeld, III has observed that we have turned police cars into rolling high-tech offices. Now, officers won’t get out of the “office” and interact with the public. Bernard Melekian, Director of the US Justice Department's COPS program has noted that while the numbers show that cities have grown safer, opinion polls confirm that Americans still fear crime.

In Albany, recent years have seen an extraordinary community discussion on the direction we want our police department to take. This was catalyzed by a number of tragic homicides involving victims and perpetrators of a very young age. These kids are not statistics. In a small city like ours, they have names. The kids in our neighborhoods and schools know them. For nearly four years, however, we had a chief of police who was addicted to the flashy technology we got through Operation IMPACT, created a “strike force” and responded to expressions of public dissatisfaction with the department’s service and performance by citing statistics from DCJS indicating a decline in reported crime.

This past year, Albany went through a very public process of searching for and selecting a new police chief. The people had the opportunity to tell the search committee empanelled by the mayor what kind of chief they wanted. At the same time, the interim team managing the Albany Police Department worked closely with the Common Council to develop a framework for designing and implementing a community policing plan. That plan is now in place. It has as its most visible component the establishment of Neighborhood Engagement Units that have divided the city into police beats with permanently assigned officers who have a community policing mandate.

I have the honor of having been appointed recently to the Buffalo Police Department Reorganization Commission which has a mandate to review the organization and geographic deployment of the department and to develop a plan for the implementation of community policing. If the state’s Capital and its second largest city are taking the lead on community policing at last, it’s high time that the state’s program of local assistance to law enforcement administered through DCJS get on the bandwagon.


There is a moribund statutory framework in New York to promote a type of community-based problem-solving that focuses on neighborhood preservation and renewal. It is the Neighborhood Preservation Crime Prevention Act (NPCPA) (Chapter 55, Laws of 1983). It was intended to promote the creation of an infrastructure of community-based nonprofits that would partner with local police and other municipal agencies to preserve and renew neighborhoods and thereby reduce crime. DCJS was charged with administering the NPCPA and tasked with awarding small grants and providing technical assistance to the nonprofits encouraged by the program.

This forward-looking legislation, which Albany County District Attorney David Soares has called “one of the most brilliant pieces of legislation ever drafted, empowering neighborhoods and empowering people,” was never implemented. In fact, early in the Cuomo administration, DCJS’ entire community crime prevention program was abruptly terminated. But neighborhood deterioration, specifically the abandoned building problem, continues to be a major criminogenic problem in all of our in all of our cities. We should, if not activate the NPCPA, at least come up with a program that fully integrates neighborhood preservation into our overall crime-fighting strategy.



Between 1983 and 1994, the population of the state prison system exploded from 17,000 to 71,000 at its peak. Today, the Department of Correctional Services releases almost as many individuals in a year as were in prison in 1983. Very slowly has our system moved to put in place the network of community resources that are needed to ensure that these people make a successful transition back to the community. Since former President George Bush proposed and Congress passed the Second Chance Act, there has been positive development in this direction. In New York, DCJS has administered funding to support prisoner re-entry task forces in a number of the state’s counties. President Obama has just empanelled a Cabinet-level re-entry task force to co-ordinate programs of a range of federal agencies in support of state and local re-entry efforts.

Several years ago, I worked with Albany County District Attorney David Soares on an effort to integrate an inmate re-entry program into the county’s total public safety strategy. In Albany County, there are some 600 persons under parole supervision at any given time. The problem of caseload overburdening of parole officers leading to lax supervision of parolees is well known. The rate of recidivism of ex-convicts can rise to two-thirds in many places. These facts cannot be responsibly ignored by any subdivision’s public safety authorities.

In the course of developing a proposal for Mr. Soares, I learned that there are many organizations in the community that collectively offer a full range of services that transitioning inmates need. It has become increasingly accepted that generic transition programs are not the most effective. Each returning inmate has different needs. Each is most effectively served by a program individually tailored to meet those needs. It is in our interest to have available the widest array of options out of which to fashion individual reentry programs. To date, the established providers have not been coordinated, they have competed against one another for resources and clients and some large providers have monopolized the field. The county re-entry task forces have begun the process of cataloging and coordinating services. But we think we could do something more.

That something is represented by a program in Albany called Lydia’s House, Inc. Several years ago, Tamika Williams, an Albany woman who had done time in state prison, incorporated a nonprofit to own a house offering temporary housing and assistance in accessing transition services to up to six women returning to the community from prison. A small, intimate and most importantly, community-based program. We strongly support this kind of program. For decades now, our distressed and mostly minority neighborhoods have produced most of our prison population. These neighborhoods, which, outside of New York City, are very often Operation IMPACT zones, are where most individuals under parole supervision cluster. They are also the neighborhoods where lie much of the abandoned housing stock in our cities. Lydia’s House is an example of neighbors helping neighbors. In this instance, ex-offenders are being housed and served, a building in an IMPACT zone is being used in a way that reduces the risk of recidivism and the people of the neighborhood are being empowered. A very healthy situation. And when it is combined with community policing and a renewed investment in neighborhood preservation, perhaps by providing job training in the building trades for returning inmates, a win-win-win situation.


I have long been a critic of New York City’s CompStat and the state’s Operation IMPACT. Statistics-driven policing tactics like CompStat are powerful management and accountability tools. But policing by the numbers does little to build a sense of community well-being. Accordingly, we advocate a resurgence of community policing. For those who must have their technology and data-driven policing, not to worry. A powerful new resource is about to be debuted. It is called predictive-policing. It takes in and analyzes enormous amounts of data and using very sophisticated computer modeling it predicts where future crime is likely to emerge.

One of the truly outstanding achievements of the New York State Police in recent decades and a major contribution to the advancement of the law enforcement profession is the prestigious annual Lt. Col Henry F. Williams Homicide Investigation Seminar established in 1987 in memory of a celebrated homicide investigator and early champion of the scientific investigation of crimes of violence. For investigators, prosecutors, defenders and forensic scientists, this annual gathering has showcased some of the most sophisticated investigative methods and advancements in forensic science and technology. In the years since its inception, a worldwide fellowship of Williams Associates has grown steadily sharing knowledge and valuable cooperation and assistance in the investigation of crimes of violence.

We have recommended to the administration of Superintendent Joseph D’Amico that the New York State Police reach out to Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department. His agency has been at the forefront of developing the next generation of information and intelligence-based policing under the rubric of predictive-policing. The LAPD is awaiting a $3 million federal grant to put it into effect. In that it has significant potential in preventing violent crime, particularly retaliatory gang violence, the Williams Seminar would provide a great venue for debuting this innovation on the world stage and bring considerable credit on the NYSP for recognizing its enormous potential.



At this writing, the news of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona that took the lives of six people and left U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords with a gunshot wound to the head is continues to be the headlines. An injury such as Representative Giffords has sustained is very serious. No one sustains an injury like that without neurological consequences. This tragedy underscores the fact that it is critical that medical research toward better treatments for such brain and spinal cord injuries goes forward. New York has, in fact, invested more than $60 million in such research under the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) over the past decade.

SCIRP was created in 1998 by Paul Richter of Albany, a former State Trooper whose career was ended when he was shot and paralyzed near Lake Placid on September 30, 1973. With the support of many retired law enforcement officers and veterans’ organizations, we were able to accomplish the extraordinary legislative feat of getting the SCIRP bill introduced, passed and enacted in the space of four months as Chapter 338 of the Laws of 1998.

The Act imposes a small surcharge on Vehicle & Traffic Law fines that goes into a fund from which grants are made to medical research facilities in our state. The statute explicitly states that these funds SHALL be applied to SCI research. In effect, the program puts the state’s entire force of law enforcement officers to work, not only making our roads and highways safer and free of drunk drivers, but generating up to $8.5 million annually that goes directly into research leading to treatment and cure of spinal cord injury (SCI) paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and many other neurological conditions. As traffic accidents are the leading cause of SCI and TBI, we consider it the most extraordinary example of restorative justice we’ve yet seen. Moreover, TBI is at epidemic levels among our military personnel because of the enemy’s weapon of choice in our current overseas conflicts, the IED. Our commitment to neurological research has brought aid, comfort and hope to tens of thousands of military families.

Last year’s chaotic budget process resulted in SCIRP revenue being diverted to other general government purposes. We hope that the Legislature will recognize that this program invests in an industry that holds great promise for New York’s future prosperity and great hope for our citizens who live with neurological impairments of various causes. This is restricted revenue. Honor the restriction.


The fiscal crisis has made it difficult to commit police personnel to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program. The State Police has had to terminate its School Resource Officer Program. Cops and kids still belong together.

We challenge OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez and State Police Superintendent Joseph D‘Amico to lead us in a new direction, one that promotes best practices and evidence-based programs to protect children from the effects of mind-altering drugs and all the crime, violence and degradation they bring.

Last year, I was introduced to Mentor International, a global organization that promotes innovative and scientifically vetted youth anti-drug abuse programs. At its Prevention Awards Gala in Washington last October, Mentor’s founder Queen Silvia of Sweden recognized outstanding programs selected from nominations representing fifty nations.

New York has world class institutions on the cutting-edge of medical, mental health and social welfare research, law enforcement organizations with a proven commitment to kids and organizations that teach, guide and advocate for children. Bring them together on a regional basis to brainstorm and develop concepts for next generation youth anti-drug abuse programs.

The Mentor Awards are given every two years. If we set a goal now and go after it with resolve, imagination and all of the intellectual resources we have at our disposal, we can proudly have a new program to be New York’s nominee in 2012.


Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy has been tasked with the portfolio of ambassador to upstate business and development interests. Certainly, the stability and prosperity of our upstate communities require they have top-notch public safety services.

Duffy, the former mayor and police chief of Rochester, has policed and governed a population that is rapidly approaching 50 percent people of color. There is an intense public discussion in the city about diversity in the municipal work force, especially the police and fire departments. This is a problem in our other upstate cities as well.

In a recent op-ed article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
, Duffy noted that this is an urgent problem in many municipalities and called for creative responses. One of his most intriguing ideas was creation of a public safety charter school.

There are many reasons why young people of color are not going into the public safety professions. High dropout rates are high on the list. Kids who do well academically have many other career options. Having spent time in our public schools, I've observed that there is an animus against law enforcement traceable to decades of the war on drugs and the long-term effect of the mass deportation of young men of color to our prison gulag.

Giving kids the opportunity to spend time in an academic environment in which those aspirations are nurtured is a good idea.

Albany is a choice location for this initiative. It is rich with headquarters of law enforcement agencies, the state's criminal justice agencies, the courts, legislative committees that make public safety policy, the State Police Academy and Forensic Investigative Center, the Rockefeller College School of Criminal Justice, Albany Law School and many organizations that lobby and advocate in criminal justice field. Where else could young people be exposed to so many aspects of the machinery of justice in the form of internships, summer jobs and the opportunity to meet and interact with leaders in the field?


As Attorney General, Governor Andrew Cuomo took the lead in advocating agency consolidation. Now he proposes merging the Departments of Banking and Insurance with Consumer Protection Agency. An excellent idea. As pertains to public protection, we can use this consolidation to better combat organized crime, tax evasion, insurance fraud, Ponzi schemes and all manner of white-collar crime that are bleeding us dry. Fully 20% of New York’s tax revenue derives from the financial industry. After 9/11, federal enforcement efforts in all forms of white collar and financial crimes were sharply reduced. The economic crisis may have changed that, but while we’re waiting for the feds to lurch toward the next crisis, the State of New York must act to enhance our ability to protect banking and insurance -- as the governor has proposed -- and, I would suggest, state revenue.

The three state agencies charged with oversight of banking, insurance and revenue collection respectively all maintain investigative divisions. Their agents are designated peace officers (CPL section 2.10, subdivisions (4), (47) and (61)). Simple legislation can amend the Criminal Procedure Law to give them full police officer status under CPL section 1.20. We can then work toward forming these units into a cooperative force to work with the State Police and other agencies to fight a variety of forms of organized crime, terrorism, banking and insurance fraud and tax evasion that affect the financial industry and the state‘s revenues -- forms limited only by the boundless ingenuity of those inclined to crime, corruption and fraud. The highly specialized expertise of these investigators will considerably amplify the effectiveness of our full panoply of state and local law enforcement agencies and add another dimension to our seamless continuum of cooperation in public protection.


This past year, I assisted the union that represents police supervisors for the State University Police in promoting their proposal to centralize the administration of all the SUNY campus police departments In investigating their issue, Chief Frank Wiley of SUNY Albany Police Department brought a very important issue to my attention that affects all of New York‘s institutions of higher learning. Simply put, campus security agencies are not eligible for federal homeland security funding. I believe, and I hope you will agree, we should be working to change that.

Our institutions of higher learning constitute an engine of future economic development and prosperity for the state and people of New York. The SUNY system alone is comprised of some 1.6 million students, faculty, scientists, researchers, administrators and many others who live, learn and work on its campuses. These campuses house billions worth of sophisticated equipment, laboratories and other critical infrastructure. They are developing valuable intellectual property that is a target for theft, espionage, sabotage and worse. Our investment in this infrastructure of higher learning and research and development is critical to national security and to our state‘s continued economic competitiveness. These institutions need to be better protected. There is no better time than the present to address this issue. U.S. Representative Peter King is chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Were he to hear from the State Legislature, I’d wager that he would raise this issue in the House of Representatives and Senators Chuck Shumer and Kirsten Gillebrand would do the same in the Senate.


The illicit trafficking of tobacco -- much of it in the form of counterfeited name-brand products -- is a multibillion-dollar global business today, fueling organized crime and corruption, robbing governments of tax revenue, and spurring addiction and disease. So profitable is the trade that tobacco is the world’s most widely smuggled legal substance. It is estimated that fully half the cigarettes sold in New York alone are untaxed.

New York has to recognize that every time we jack up the taxes on cigarettes, as we did last year, we increase the value of this form of contraband quite considerably, drive the expansion of the black market, contribute to the profitability of criminal enterprises the world over and, yes, we support terrorist organizations. If, however, the state insists on going forward with this dubious initiative, it should, at the very least, turn the Petroleum, Alcohol and Tobacco Bureau of the Department of Taxation and Finance, which investigates revenue crimes, into a fully empowered and capable police agency because its employees are facing on a day to day basis increasingly powerful and vicious criminal organizations engaged in ever-growing and lucrative contraband trafficking.


In decades past, the Department of Correctional Services held an annual exhibition and sale of inmate art called Corrections on Canvas. The program was terminated during the Pataki administration. It should be restored but in a new format. Prior to its termination, the art was displayed in the Well of the Legislative Office Building and offered for sale at modest prices to a market of mostly state workers. The artworks should be sold at charity auctions at various locations -- preferably art galleries or museums -- around the state with the proceeds to go to the Crime Victims Board to benefit victims of crime.


It has been my ambition for twenty years now to make New York a center for research and development on cutting-edge ideas in public safety, tackling problems ranging from youth gangs and street crime to transnational organized crime and terrorism. Albany has the resources, notably the New York State Police Academy, Albany Law School and the University at Albany School of Criminal Justice, to contribute to this institution. It can also serve as a focal point for connecting our youth with the global career opportunities that have emerged virtually overnight in the areas of homeland security, disaster preparedness and private security.

These difficult times challenge us to be resourceful in finding the means to create and sustain new programs and initiatives. We must be creative in looking at resources we possess of which we have not realized their maximum value. We do, in fact possess a unique and untapped resource of great value in the record of the New York State Police and our eponymous (i.e., the person our organization is named for) patron Tom Constantine himself.

In 1957, the NYSP made history when it exposed the existence of organized crime in an incident known as the Appalachin organized crime meeting. That incident sparked a tremendous engagement on the part of the federal government and law enforcement agencies all over the nation to confront and combat what has today grown into a global network of criminal enterprises. The United Nations estimates that criminal organizations worldwide profit over $2 trillion a year, twice what all the nations on earth spend on their annual military budgets. In 1991, under the leadership of Tom Constantine, the operations of Colombia’s Cali Cartel were exposed in New York. Four years later, as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Constantine presided over the dismantling of the cartel and the capture, sentencing and imprisonment of its leaders. The Cali Cartel is acknowledged to have been the largest and most powerful criminal conspiracy in history. An alumnus of our New York State Police took it down.

Between 2000 and 2003, Constantine, serving as Oversight Commissioner for reform of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, played a major role in ending more than three decades of terrorist violence in the British Isles by giving the people of the province a police service that is committed to the highest legal and ethical principals, excellence in professionalism and the philosophy of community policing. This is a remarkable achievement and it stands as a model of what needs to be achieved in many areas of the globe that do not have so trusted an institution to maintain public order.

This unique and internationally acknowledged legacy of pioneering achievement is an asset of considerable but unrealized value for purposes of developing a privately-funded and ultimately self-sustaining endowment to support research, development, training and education in the struggle against transnational organized crime and terrorism.

The Constantine Institute will marshal the intellectual resources of our great state university system and serve as a focal point for research and deliberation on the control of transnational organized crime and terrorism. Modeled on the prestigious Nathanson Centre for Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security established in 1997 at Osgood Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, the institute will sponsor a diverse research program that will reflect a balance among the issues relating to legal, operational, social, political, and economic aspects of responding to these threats. It will organize conferences and symposia that will bring together the best minds among academics, law enforcement professionals, the military services, the intelligence community, lawmakers, the diplomatic corps and the business and financial community to develop strategies, tactics, relationships and legal and diplomatic frameworks for more effective international cooperation. Its ultimate goal is to be a valuable and practical resource for the world’s law enforcement agencies, governments and the international business community.


Governor Paterson last year vetoed legislation that would have empanelled and funded a commission to plan for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. His reason for doing so was obvious -- he couldn’t justify the cost. These anniversaries, however, should be opportunities for government to make money, not spend it.

On April 11, 1917, Governor Charles Whitman signed Chapter 161 of the Laws of 1917 which created the Department of State Police. Six years hence, we will be celebrating the centennial of the NYSP here in Albany and at troop headquarters and sites of significance in the history of the New York State Troopers all over the state. We have already begun laying plans to make the most of this occasion to project the prestige of the State Police, the dedicated service of generations of Troopers and the compelling saga of New York's pioneering history of leadership and achievement in advancing the best in policing. We look forward to years of exciting collaboration with the Legislature toward making this a celebration to remember.


Lyric and music by Terry O’Neill, 1991

On a summer day back in Nineteen Seventeen

Came a troop of riders trottin’ smartly ‘cross the green.

Tell me, who are they in the purple and the gray?

They’re the new State Troopers on parade.

Well, they saddled up and they journeyed far and wide

Bringing law and order to the rural countryside.

Not with words but deeds did they write some history

And the tale ain’t over, no, siree!

’cause they still ride proudly in the purple and the gray

Though their boots and saddles have been long since put away.

And there’s no one anywhere can say he ever saw

The like of our Gray Riders of the Law.


Sure, they’ve come a way since they were Chandler’s Cavalry

But they’re still a paragon of guts and gallantry.

It’s the Long, Gray Line riding tall and proud and fine

With their heads high and their colors flyin’.


I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and share some thoughts about the public protection aspects of this most challenging year of budget-making. I first sat through one of these hearings in 1984. It has always been a privilege to do so. And the result of your diligent work has always worked out to the benefit of the state and people of New York. I wish each and every member of these committees every success in completing this most intricate, demanding and critical aspect of the people’s business.

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