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The World's Top Cop
(Continued from previous page)

Mention Ron Noble's name to anyone who has known him--a college friend, a former professor, a law enforcement colleague--and he or she will use the same word to describe him: dedicated. An acknowledged workaholic, he regularly puts in 14- to 16-hour days on the job, often winding up with an hour of study in Arabic. (He already speaks French, Spanish and German.) It's not unusual for correspondents to receive e-mail messages that he fired off in the wee hours of the morning. He logs thousands of miles a month on planes and trains.

Since his election as secretary general, however, he has new priorities to juggle. He was married in 2000, and the couple's son, Max, was born in 2001. Somewhat self-conscious in his role as a new father, Noble nonetheless needs little urging to pull out his wallet and proudly display a photo of Max. Sometimes when he has a spare moment during the day, Noble can visit his family in their personal apartment in the Interpol building, but his wife and son are not usually there.

After Sept. 11, a French magazine cited Interpol headquarters as the second most likely terrorist target in the country, after the Eiffel tower. The article was illustrated with a computer-generated photograph of a plane flying into Interpol headquarters. Because of the obvious threat to their safety, the Nobles have apartments in several locations and move from one to another on an irregular schedule.

Being a target "is not something you think about all the time," Noble says. "Just every now and then when a situation like that [the magazine article] arises or you receive threats. I've met many people throughout the world who have risked and sometimes lost their lives to fight organized crime or corrupt governments. Being part of that fight is something I'm honored to do.

"We have an incredible task before us. We're trying to make the world safer." ~

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