N.Y. State Police Chief to Head DEA
WASHINGTON (AP) _ New York State Police Superintendent Thomas Constantine was nominated today to chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The selection of Constantine, who will succeed Bush administration holdover Robert Bonner, was announced by Vice President Al Gore.
The 55-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native, who has spent 32 years with the state police, told the standing-room-only crowd at DEA headquarters he had worked closely with federal law enforcement agencies in his career. He asked the agency’s staff to ″help me, teach me and accept me as one of your own.″
He enunciated some of his basic believes: ″I believe that people do not have to be victims of crime. I abhor bullies. I abhor predators.″
Gore said President Clinton chose Constantine because he wanted ″the very best.″ He lauded the nominee for working his way up the ranks ″by sheer professionalism and commitment to excellence. He’s also got heart.″
Constantine faces Senate confirmation, but Judiciary Committee aides said they knew of no immediate opposition.
His department has been rocked by a scandal involving evidence-tampering by investigators. Constantine called the scandal the worst case of trooper misconduct he had ever seen.
Already, two convictions have been overturned. Authorities believe dozens more may eventually be overturned. The cases involve murder, armed robbery, arson, carjacking and drug and weapons possession. At least three troopers have been imprisoned, while three others face such charges as perjury, evidence tampering and official misconduct. A probe is ongoing.
The state police have some 4,000 sworn officers, while DEA agents worldwide number 3,629. The DEA has a presence in 53 countries and all 50 states.
Constantine said he accepted the nomination in part because of troopers who had died in the line of duty. They include his troop school roommate, Bill Doyle, who was shot and killed 20 years ago Thursday, and Joey Aversa, the last state trooper killed in March 1990 when he decided to fight drug trafficking in New York City.
″My sense is if he could make a sacrifice like that, then I can make the sacrifice of shedding some of the comfort for what would be a real challenge,″ Constantine said.