years ago, as a new employee of the state Assembly,
I sat through my first hearing of the joint legislative
fiscal committees on the public protection budget
that had been sent over by Governor Mario M. Cuomo.
I heard then Assemblyman Arthur Eve, a champion of
the African-American community, sparring with then
Commissioner of Correctional Services Thomas A. Coughlin,
III over the implications of what was to become the
drug addiction-fueled prison construction juggernaut.
dont believe that the Cuomo administration and
the Republican Majority in the Senate were motivated
by a racial animus in launching the corrections boom
and all of the harsh anti-drug laws and investments
in enforcement and prosecution that went with it.
If there was anything reprehensible about the whole
disgraceful mess, it was the simple fact that precious
little intelligence, imagination and compassion were
expended on developing our response to the drug addiction
epidemic. On the contrary, our policy was grotesquely
exploitative. I vividly recall then state police superintendent
Tom Constantine telling one newspaper with a chuckle
that the state-of-the-art new forensic investigative
center that drug assets forfeiture monies were going
to fund would be the house that crack built.
More accurately, it was the house that crackheads
and crack babies built.
revisit this decided wrong turn in public security
policy today because we are at a similarly historic
crossroads. The war on terrorism has led to a great
deal of legislating in every state. It is alarming,
however, to contemplate the presumptions to expertise
that have bloomed so extravagantly in Washington and
fifty state capitals since 9/11. Im willing
to bet good money that in each of those fifty-one
venues, the same lack of intelligence, imagination
and compassion of the drug war era is to be found.
Granted, these are not the resources were inclined
to reach for just now. Were very angry with
these terrorists, the unfriendly governments who are
alleged to have harbored and encouraged them, the
friendly governments who have not joined us in our
mission in Iraq, the Washington agencies and officials
who did not prevent 9/11 in the first place.
in 1988, I had a remarkable visionary experience on
a train bound for New York City. I was en route to
a conference at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
I saw our distinguished state police superintendent
Mr. Constantine dressed as a workman with a belt of
tools single-handedly renovating a dilapidated old
house. It was such a singular experience that it has
been with me for all the years since as I have pondered
its meaning. In recent years, that meaning has become
clearer to me as I have observed and often participated
in the evolution of public security policy. Simply
put, I saw our all-purpose policeman as the only resource
we hit upon to keep the house from falling on our
heads. Im afraid that isnt good enough
anymore, if indeed it ever was. This experience was
particularly ironinc in that my friend Mr. Constantine
went on later in his career to serve as the Oversight
Commissioner for police reform in Northern Ireland
-- a rather bass-ackward evolution given the fact
that the province's elected assembly had been dissolved.
How can people police themselves when they can't even
govern themselves? Well, they can't. And yet that's
what we have been doing for some three decades here
in the United States in turning over the drug problem
to the cops. And we kicked it off in New York with
Nelson Rockefeller's eponymous drug laws.
fundamental idea that we all encounter in criminal
justice was articulated in the late 1960s by a scholar
named Herbert Packer. He postulated that American
criminal justice policy swings back and forth between
two paradigms -- one that demands a tough, swift response
to crime and one that insists upon elaborate due process.
The trouble is that increasingly, both of these paradigms
are irrelevant to our major public security problems.
Americas drug problem is in reality a colossal
public mental health crisis unprecedented in history.
Yet we have relied exclusively on the criminal justice
system to address it. New problem. Old paradigm. No
solution. There are two anti-terrorism packages of
bills before the state Legislature just now. A waste
of the paper they're printed on because they are perfectly
representative of the two old and obsolete paradigms.
Whatever resulting compromise the governors
signature will enact will not be informed by any understanding
of the true nature of the problem of terrorism. New
problem. Old paradigm. No solution -- with the stakes
higher than ever.
is a promising new paradigm emerging that I encountered
in April 2001 at the State University of New York
(SUNY) Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome. At a
one-day conference I was introduced to the concept
of the Public, Private and Academic Partnership, a
fascinating idea that has been developed under the
leadership of SUNY Chancellor Robert King. One would
think that this is nothing new. On the contrary. Ive
found over the years that while a lot of cutting-edge
research is being done on our university campuses,
rare is the academic who will walk into a legislators
office with a proposal for a bill. Just as rare is
the politician who spends his or her evenings poring
over academic journals. And the private sector? Theres
a horse of a different color.
lot has been written about the economic hit that New
York took on 9/11. What is not well known is the fact
that within four days of the catastrophe that devastated
Americas financial nerve center, markets were
up and running. Why is that? Because after it became
abundantly clear that the financial district was a
terrorist target with the World Trade Center attack
in 1993, Wall Street took steps to prevent any disruption
should anything like it occur again. The private sector
has the flexibility, decisiveness and resources to
act that quickly to protect itself and the interests
of shareholders. Unfortunately, as is emerging in
the 9/11 Commission hearings in Washington, government
did not take similar action.
Street is not the only business interest that has
had to protect itself. Any company that has done business
in Colombia or Peru over the past two decades has
had to contend with having employees kidnapped and
held for ransom -- a major money-maker for insurgents.
In many nations, doing business means dealing with
corrupt governments whose officials demand bribes
and payoffs. The rise of powerful international organized
criminal conspiracies in the post-Cold War era --organizations
capable of world-class extortion schemes -- has posed
immense security challenges to American business in
the global marketplace. There is a world-wide epidemic
of outright piracy of one of Americas most valuable
national assets -- intellectual property. Microsofts
Bill Gates was so disgusted over the low priority
that the FBI placed on investigating thefts of technology
that he hired seventy-five retired federal agents
to do its job for it. One hates to say it in these
painful times, but in the long run, these problems
facing business have implications for Americas
continuing security and economic well-being that dwarf
the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Chancellor Kings partnership idea brings the
three sectors -- public, private and academic -- together
in a way particularly well-suited not only to the
problem of terrorism, but to the more pervasive problem
of international organized crime and corruption. It
is out of this triumvirate that the new public security
paradigm will arise.
I am not an academic or a businessman, but I did walk
into a couple of legislative offices one day with
a proposal for a bill. That was back in the year 2000.
I was interested in an innovative institute that had
been created at the Osgoode Hall School of Law at
York University in Toronto. A Canadian businessman
who was sick and tired of the corruption and extortion
his ventures encountered in foreign countries gave
the law school $3 million to establish the Nathanson
Centre for the Study of Organised Crime and Corruption.
The bill I drafted for then Assemblyman Edward Griffith
and Senator Vincent Leibell would direct the trustees
of the State University of New York to create a similar
institute with a focus on international organized
crime and terrorism. The 62-campus SUNY system has
an amazing array of scholars, programs and other intellectual
resources that have yet to be mobilized to make a
major contribution in this historic struggle. This
little bill -- Senate Bill No. 1895 -- would get that
upon Chancellor Kings partnership idea, Senator
Leibell's bill would kick off a dynamic relationship
bringing together the energy and resources of the
international business community, the research and
intellectual capabilities of the academic community
and the power of government to implement the best
ideas through legislative and executive action.
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