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. He left. however, before graduating to
go home to Buffalo to marry his sweetheart, the former Ruth Ann Cryan.
While he left the Academy, Mr. Constantine took with him its famous Latin motto -- Acta Non Verba or Deeds
not Words -- and has lived by it and up to 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 every one of
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 that had begun with the discovery of a cocaine processing laboratory on
an Upstate farm.
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.
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 that the New York State Police 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
In July, 1999, Mr. Constantine retired -- he thought -- from public life to enjoy 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 was also named 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.
But that is not the end of the story.
Professor Constantine in May 2000, accepted the invitation of the
governments of Great Britain and Ireland to serve as Oversight Commissioner for the implementation of the most ambitious police
reform effort ever undertaken -- the change from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland,
an integral part of the peace accord reached in that troubled province under the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. He stepped
down from that post in December, 2003.
And that is still not the end of this epic story.
In late September, 2006, two Colombian nationals, Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, pleaded guilty to international
drug trafficking, agreed to forfeit more than $2 billion in criminal assets, and received sentences of 30 years in federal
prison. As they are both in their sixties, it is highly unlikely that the pair will ever taste freedom again. Their plea delivered
what the federal government called "the final, fatal blow" to what has generally been acknowledged to have been
the largest and most powerful criminal organization in history, the infamous Cali cocaine cartel.
October 2006 in Northern Ireland, the Independent Monitoring Commission, a four-man panel that includes former directors of
the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the anti-terrorist unit of Scotland Yard, reported in early October that the Irish
Republican Army has stopped recruiting members and has shut down units responsible for bomb-making and weapons smuggling.
Three decades of terrorist violence appear to have ended. Historic negotiations are underway to establish a representative
government in the long-troubled province. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said there now exists "the basis for
the final settlement of the conflict in Northern Ireland."
These two historic developments
are worthy of celebration in themselves. They are also to be inscribed on the positive side of the ledger of law enforcement
history, very definitely and deservedly in Tom Constantine's distinctive handwriting.
he led the New York State Police and then the Drug Enforcement Administration in long-term investigations that led to the
dismantling of the Cali organization and the surrender of its kingpins in 1994. This stood in stark contrast to the Colombian
government’s earlier war against Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel which was prosecuted using paramilitary proxies,
death squads and horrific extra-legal violence that cost the lives of thousands of innocents. The long struggle against the
Cali organization was quite different. It was a genuine, international law enforcement effort. It ultimately led to the extradition
treaty that brought the Rodriguez brothers to face American justice.
subsequent service as Oversight Commissioner for the implementation of the Patten Commission reform of the Police Service
of Northern Ireland lent his steady guidance and professionalism to legitimizing that agency in the eyes of the Catholic/Nationalist
minority in the province. Over the three decades of the Troubles, the former Royal Ulster Constabulary had lost all credibility
and trust with that minority. Only someone of international stature and sterling integrity could certify the reality of reform.
Only a truly professional police agency could vitiate the need for the British military presence and so guarantee civic order
that any public sympathy for the paramilitary groups that had held sway for so long has largely evaporated. The PSNI is truly
emerging as a community police force in every sense of the term.
With these two signature career
accomplishments -- for which, of course, he would be the first assign credit to many thousands of dedicated law enforcement
officers -- Tom Constantine has showed us as probably no one else conceivably could that the key to successfully confronting
the threats of transnational organized crime and terrorism is honest, dedicated, professional law enforcement operating within
the bounds of the strictest constitutional, legal and ethical standards. That is a message that this troubled world badly
needs to hear.
Well done, Tom Constantine!
And the story will continue. You
may read the beginning of the next chapter in the archives of the Irish opinion journal "The Blanket" now in the
collection of the University of Indiana. http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/TON031106g.html