Thomas A. Constantine was born in Buffalo, NY , Dec. 23, 1938. He began his law enforcement career in 1960 as a deputy with the Erie County Sheriff's Department, and joined the New York State Police Jan. 2, 1962, graduating at the top of his recruit class academically. In 1966 he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and then appointed investigator in the BCI. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1971, captain in 1976, major in 1978, inspector in 1979, assistant deputy superintendent in 1981, and deputy superintendent/field commander in 1984.
Gov. Mario M. Cuomo appointed Thomas A. Constantine to be the 10th Superintendent of the New York State Police on Jan. 2, 1987. The first superintendent in 30 years to rise through the ranks, he immediately undertook a division-wide review of all NYSP operations and procedures.
Months of exhaustive research and review culminated in a three-day retreat at the Rensselaerville Institute in Albany County, where agency executives examined critical issues identified by the operational review: recruitment, selection and training of personnel; quality of service; discipline; career development and promotional policies, and deployment of personnel. This resulted in specific plans to improve agency performance in all targeted areas, including a phased-in requirement for all applicants to have at least two years of college, a total revision of the NYSP post structure, revised promotional procedures and new hiring practices, including establishing a cadre of permanent recruiters.
His tenure as superintendent marked the emergence of the state police as a major force in combating drug trafficking. He is credited with establishing many innovative programs, including the:
- Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams
- Drug Recognition Technician Program
- Saturation Speed Enforcement Program
- INTERPOL Liaison Program
- Driving While Intoxicated Checkpoint Program
- Colonel Henry F. Williams Homicide Seminar
- Homicide Assessment Lead Tracking Network
- Statewide Narcotics Indexing Program
- 1-800-CURB-DWI Program
- Computer Crimes Unit
- Consumer Product Tampering Program
On March 11, 1994, President Clinton appointed Supt. Constantine to be administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. In that capacity he oversaw a workforce of more than 7,000 special agents and support staff, and DEA offices in all 50 states and more than 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 also directed efforts to help foreign governments combat the world's most powerful drug trafficking organizations. He retired from that position in July 1999.
In the fall of 1999 he began a new career as a public service professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy in Albany, NY. He also serves on to the board of directors of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. In May 2000 he tackled the biggest challenge of his career when he accepted an appointment by the United Kingdom Secretary of State to serve as oversight commissioner of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland.
The intolerance and mutual distrust that characterizes the long sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland has had a direct impact on policing and community attitudes to it. As part of the 1997 Belfast Agreement, the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland (Patten Commission) was established and tasked with developing a framework creating "for a new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland with a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support from the community."
The commission conducted an exhaustive study of policing issues in Northern Ireland, and its September 1999 report recommended sweeping changes to policing strategies there, including the appointment of an independent "oversight commissioner" from outside the U.K. or Ireland to ensure its recommendations would be implemented comprehensively and faithfully. In addition to overseeing the process by which the Royal Ulster Constabulary has been reconstituted as today's Police Service for Northern Ireland, Supt. Constantine plays an active role in the areas of police accountability and training, education and development.
In September of 2007, Superintendent Constantine was appointed to a select Senior Advisory Group to the US Director of National Intelligence.
Supt. Constantine served as a consultant to California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont in matters involving organized crime, promotional boards and management review.
Superintendent Constantine passed away on May 3, 2015. He was survived by his wife Ruth, his six children and grandchildren.