Dec. 23, 1938 – May 3, 2015
Thomas A. Constantine, a Buffalo native who served as New York’s State Police superintendent and head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, died Sunday after a short illness in Pinehurst, N.C., where he had a winter home. He was 76.
Scrupulously honest, hard-nosed and well-educated, when he became superintendent in 1987, he was the first state trooper in 30 years to rise through the ranks to the state’s highest law enforcement position.
In 1994, he was named to head the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, where he was credited with helping curtail the Columbian Cali drug cartel. He stepped down in 1999.
The following year, he was appointed by the British government to lead police reform in Northern Ireland by revamping the Royal Ulster Constabulary. He served for 3½ years.
Since 1999, he had been a public service professor at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College School of Public Affairs and Policy, where he helped start its training program for municipal police executives.
He also was a senior adviser to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Constantine was active in a number of police organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
He was awarded honorary doctorates from Niagara University, Stonehill College and the State University of New York.
The son of a brewery worker, Mr. Constantine attended Canisius High School, graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He worked at the American Radiator plant before becoming an Erie County sheriff’s deputy in 1960.
Two years later, he became a state trooper after graduating at the top his class at the State Police Academy. As a trooper, he worked on a variety of assignments, including narcotics and organized crime investigations.
He went on to serve as a regional troop commander, headquarters staff inspector and full colonel, where he was in charge of all State Police operations.
While he was superintendent, the State Police received numerous awards. He instituted crackdowns on drunken driving, started the Forensic Unit and beefed up enforcement of drug laws.
He earned criminal justice degrees from Erie Community College and Buffalo State College, then earned a master’s degree at the University at Albany. He also completed the academic portion of his doctoral program there.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Ruth Ann Cryan; four daughters, Patricia Gatta, Lisa Reale, Kathy and Laura Jezyk; two sons, Thomas and Kevin; a brother; George; 15 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday in St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 812 Union St., Schenectady.