On November 18, 1993, the people of the Hamilton Hill neighborhood in Schenectady, New York awoke to find a huge drug raid going on around them involving some 500 state troopers, county deputies and city cops, a helicopter and two truckloads of Mobile Response Teams in battle gear. Within a few hours, over 110 drug dealers had been rounded up and carted away beginning a period of decreased crime that was to last for almost six years. That event also inspired this book. Here's what two journalists had to say about the events of that day:
They cheered from their porches and shouted out windows.
They ran into the street wearing bathrobes and in their stocking feet, shaking the hands of police officers who arrived before dawn to take away suspected drug dealers.
"This is excellent. This is the best. This is one of the best things I've seen."
The Daily Gazette
Schenectady, New York
18 November 1993
Tom Constantine [is] . . . an extraordinary cop, and the raid itself was a smashing success. . . . I caught myself saying, All right!" when I heard the news, just like when the home team gets on the board with a solid score.
It's entirely understandable why residents . . . came out and cheered. . . .
The positive power and emotional impact of a massive raid like Schenectady's can't be underestimated. The public is beaten down day after day, watching drug deals go down in front of their noses, reading about endless arrests and convictions, but still seeing only a continued deterioration in the neighborhood. Nothing seems to change but for the worse.
We need to see at least an illusion that we are capable of taking back our streets, reasserting the rule of law, even if only for a littkle while.
If for a day or two, then why not longer? That, of course, is the real challenge posed by the 110 drug indictments handed up in Schenectady and Tom Constantine's circus on Hamilton Hill -- making the good feeling last.
. . . .
There is a brief time after such a big raid, the pros tell me, when a city needs to try to change the street pattern if there's any hope at all of avoiding a repetition of the bad old days. Through education programs, more beat cops and all sorts of neighborhood programs.
Otherwise, six months later I'm afraid we'll be wondering what Constantine's circus was all about. . .
Albany, New York
19 November 1993
So, all these years after the famous event of November 1993, are we wondering what Constantine's Circus was all about?
We emphatically don't think so.
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