Long ago, a man named Homer made up a very long poem that told the
story of one of the great events in the history of his people, the Greeks. That event was
the Trojan War. His poem, which came to be known as The Iliad, tells the story of one of
their heroes -- a man named Achilles -- and his famous deeds.
A long poem that tells a heroic tale is called an epic. Many nations have an epic that tells the story of how they came to be. Usually, the story is told as the adventure of a national hero who comes to epitomize the qualities that the people most admire in themselves. In Ireland the epic hero is Cuchulainn. In India, he is called Rama. The Spaniards have El Cid. The French, Roland. The ancient Romans had Aeneas.
My favorite is Gilgamesh. He was the hero of a Middle Eastern people long gone from history.
Gilgamesh was the leader of his people, but not at all a good leader. In fact, he was quite a terrible bully. So oppressive was he that the people prayed to the gods to get him off their backs.
The gods heard the prayers of the people and sent Gilgamesh the one thing he needed most -- a best friend -- a wildman named Enkidu.
According to the story, the two met and had a great struggle before the gates of the city and, in the heat of their battle, suddenly decided to become friends.
And they went on to have many adventures together.
I believe that there are men and women alive today whose deeds would probably make good epics, if epics had not gone out of style. (If only it was war and not epic poetry that has gone out of style!)
In my Foreword, I described an anti-drug operation that occurred in Buffalo, New York in August 1992. It was organized by the man who was then New York's Top Trooper -- Tom Constantine. Because he did such a great job and because Buffalo is his home town, you may agree with many of Mr. Constantine's fans that he deserves, at the very least, this mini-epic.
For those of you who don't know, the Cali Cartel that is mentioned in the poem was a vicious drug trafficking organization that had its headquarters in the South American nation of Colombia in the city of that name. It specialized in cocaine, which is derived from a plant native to that part of the world. During the 1980s and 1990s, it grew to be the most powerful criminal organization in history. Its tentacles reached from the jungles and mountains of South America into every city, town and village in America.
In 1985, we learned that the Cali Cartel had set up operations -- including laboratories where cocaine was processed -- in the state of New York. It took a long time to build a case against all of its conspirators -- fifty of them were arrested in May 1991 -- but when we did, it was the first time a state police organization in America had uncovered and dealt such a blow to a foreign-based drug trafficking organization.
Perhaps it was this kind of achievement (and many others that he accumulated) that caused our leaders in Washington to ask Tom Constantine to become America's top drug enforcement officer as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Whatever their reason, they certainly made the right choice because with the help of the famous Colombian police commander General Rosso Jose Serrano, the leadership of the cartel was brought to justice and its organization smashed.
That makes a great and epic story, but unfortunately, there are still people in the world who are evil and eager enough to form new criminal organizations to traffic in illegal drugs. The most powerful of them now are just across the border in Mexico. I am certain, however, that they will ultimately meet the same fate as the evil leaders of the Cali Cartel.
Well, let me add that Homer wrote a second epic, the Odyssey, starring a very different hero who was also one of the Greeks who fought the Trojan War. Achilles, you see, loved making war. Apparently, it was the only thing he was good at; although I understand that in between battles he enjoyed golf, poker or a day at the races. The hero of the other epic, a man named Odysseus, had a different set of priorities altogether.
After ten years of fighting, which was getting nowhere, Odysseus reminded the Greeks that they all had families and responsibilities back home. "Enough is enough," he said. Then he came up with the bold and imaginative idea that ended the war.
What was Odysseus' idea? I'm afraid you're just going to have to read Homer's book to find out. And when you do so -- not to look a gift horse in the mouth -- I hope you come to the conclusion that there are far better ways to end war than the one Odysseus came up with.
Let me just say that the war on drugs as we know it today has already lasted three times longer than the Trojan War. Wouldn't you say that enough is enough, already?
Let's hope that somewhere, we have a hero who is going to show us the way to win the struggle against illegal drugs, violence and intolerance once and for all.
Now that would be a home run.
TOM'S HOME RUN
Now, from law enforcement lore;
From Buffalo, on Erie's shore,
A tale about our Troopers fearless
And Constantine, their leader peerless.
It's long ago he pulled up roots,
Put his feet in Trooper's boots
And set out in the world to rise.
To those who knew him, no surprise,
His star was rising, bright, ascendant.
They knew he'd end up Superintendent.
But, in his heart, he never forgot
From where he came, that humble spot.
This Trooper with the surname royal
To home and birthplace, fastly loyal.
Even now, Tom's biggest thrills
Are winning touchdowns by the Bills.
There came a time when our environs
Grew filled with gunfire, lights and sirens.
Fights and hold-ups, shakedowns, lootings,
Burglaries and drive-by shootings.
Appeared in town a crowd of thugs.
Appeared on streets a plague of drugs.
Then gangs arrived, pulled out the stops,
Announced to all: "We're hunting cops."
The city cops put up a fight
From street to street both day and night.
With all their might, each woman and man
Together made determined stand.
No way would they accept defeat.
But every time they cleared a street
Of misfits who were dealing "crack",
A day would pass, they'd slink right back.
Came the Sheriff to the fray.
We looked to him to save the day.
Of himself, gave good account, he
As we'd expect the County Mountie.
He swept the streets and greased the rails
That slid those miscreants to jail
In numbers soon that grew so big
He filled to overflow the brig!
But, though they worked and did their best;
Breaking records for arrests;
Though arms grew tired from throwing books;
The streets were still awash with crooks.
Yes, things were looking pretty dark,
When, in the East, there blazed a spark.
When hope had dwindled down to zero,
Came to our aid our hometown hero.
Came into view that Long, Gray Line
And out in front, Tom Constantine.
He'd on his face, a fearsome frown
To see this stuff in his home town.
They rallied 'round each woman and man.
They strategized and drew a plan.
Then off they charged -- a surging wave
Of cops all stern, determined, brave.
There's Tom, out front, hard set his jaw.
Determined to uphold the law,
End disorder, restore the peace
Or else, he's not the State Police.
So launched they a humongous raid
That swept the streets and promenades.
Awoke the druggies from their stupors
Up to their ears in cops and Troopers.
And everywhere the dealers looked,
They saw their kind were getting booked.
Yes, Tom chased down each street and alley
All tentacles of Cartel Cali.
'Cause folks, no force on earth can stop
The fury of an Irish cop
Who truly, badly takes offense
At those who prey on innocents.
As quick begun, so fast it ended.
The operation's now suspended.
The jails are full and courts so busy
Stenographers are getting dizzy.
Expect, at least, now for a time
A sharp decrease in rates of crime.
Success, though, cops know doesn't last.
They've learned that lesson in the past.
You don't know why they don't get tired,
Throw in the towel, get retired.
What keeps a Trooper's heart afire?
And what's the thing these deeds inspires?
Our Troopers come from every place.
They're of both sexes and every race.
Think of it. Yes, contemplate --
They're from each township in the State.
They're more than sworn to keep the peace.
They're our community police.
Like Tom, each one of them would go
To rescue his own Buffalo.
Go To TABLE OF CONTENTS
Questions? E-mail Us!
CONSTANTINE'S CIRCUS, INC.
PO Box 7223
Albany, NY 12224-0223