Constantine's Circus, Inc. was inspired by a November 1993 drug sweep in a beleaguered neighborhood
in Schenectady, NY. The operation, headed by then New York State Police Superintendent Thomas A. Constantine,
netted over one hundred drug dealers. It was a regular home run of an operation and a great day in the history
of The Long, Gray Line, as our New York State Troopers have been known since their founding in 1917.
"Operation: Crackdown", as it was called, was also a stunning example of Mr. Constantine's winning strategy of working closely and collaboratively with other police agencies to identify the drug dealers in a neighborhood and arrest them all in a single, coordinated operation. His program was called the Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams or CNET. (He later created the similar Mobile Enforcement Teams or MET for the Drug Enforcement Administration.)
Residents came out and cheered because bad news had been swatted clear out of their community and replaced with a very good feeling. It was a major media event and it came on the eve of Mr. Constantine's appointment by President Bill Clinton to be head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
Albany Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun wisely commented: "Taking back the streets makes everyone feel good, but the real challenge is making the good feeling last. Otherwise, six months from now we'll be wondering what Constantine's circus was all about."
Albany lawyer and crime prevention activist Terry O'Neill resolved to make that "good feeling last" by creating a vehicle to help kids learn about the relationship between drug abuse, communal violence and intolerance. With the help of retired New York State Trooper Lee Thomas, pharmacist Raymond Zywot, journalist Sam Cramer and student of government Paul Arnason (one of the few Icelanders you're likely to meet in these parts), he organized a corporation -- Constantine's Circus, Inc. Its goal is nothing less than to convince young people that they can and must play their own part in our struggle to resist and defeat drugs, violence and intolerance.
Our goal is to get kids talking -- using stories, plays, the Internet, even the comic books they love as the springboard -- openly about drugs, violence and intolerance among themselves and with their adult mentors.
We want them to know what is going on in the world as the tragic results of America's shameful and inexcusable drug habit. We want them to learn about some of the efforts that are being undertaken in communities, by law enforcement and by state, local and national governments to combat the powerful world-wide criminal conspiracies that produce and distribute drugs and engage in every imaginable form of criminal activity. This knowledge will help them to realize that they can help win the struggle against violence and intolerance and the drug abuse and nihilism they engender. The better world that they inherit will be the world that they themselves will help to make.
Questions? E-mail Us!
CONSTANTINE'S CIRCUS, INC.
PO Box 7223
Albany, NY 12224-0223