N.Y. police official named to head drug agency

January 14, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Calling him "street-smart, tough and an able administrator," the Clinton administration yesterday named Thomas A. Constantine, the New York State Police superintendent,to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.

At a ceremony at the agency's headquarters in suburban Virginia, Mr. Constantine, 55, said he began his career as a 20-year-old cadet living in a police barracks and worked his way up through the ranks to head the 4,800-member state police force.

"I believe that people do not have to be victims of crime. I abhor bullies, and I abhor predators," said Mr. Constantine, explaining why he chose police work.

Now, he said, he looks forward to heading the nation's lead agency in the fight against the "tyranny of violence" caused by illegal drugs.

"I've seen a degradation caused by drugs and violence that I would never have thought possible when I started in law enforcement," he said.

Attorney General Janet Reno said Mr. Constantine's selection was a testament to the way in which he "brilliantly led and administered an agency slightly larger than the DEA." About 3,700 DEA agents are deployed in all 50 states and 53 other countries.

Mr. Constantine appears to have emerged unscathed from an evidence-tampering scandal within the New York State Police. Since 1992, three troopers have pleaded guilty to falsifying fingerprints and three others have come under investigation.

Mr. Constantine called it the worst scandal to hit the state police force, and he has been credited since then with working effectively to weed out corrupt troopers.

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