Safir, Howard 1942-

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SAFIR, Howard 1942-


Male. Born February 24, 1942, in New York, NY; son of George and Rose (Weiner) Safir; married Carol Ferrara, November 21, 1965; children: Jennifer, Adam. Education: Hofstra University, B.A., 1963; John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, certificate for senior managers in government, 1988, certificate for national and international security, 1989; attended Brooklyn Law School, 1963-65.


Office—1 Police Plaza, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10038-1403; 437 Madison Ave., 20th Floor, New York, NY 10022; fax: 212-817-6728. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, law enforcement officer, and security consultant. Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now Drug Enforcement Agency), special agent, 1965-70, deputy chief of special projects, 1970-72, assistant regional director, 1972-74, special assistant for organized crime, 1974-75, chief of special enforcement programs, 1975-76, deputy regional director, 1976-77, assistant director, 1977-79; chief of witness security division, U.S. Marshals Service, 1979-81; assistant director of operations, 1979-84, associate director of operations, 1984-90; Safir Associates, Ltd., president, 1990-96; New York City Fire Department, commissioner, 1994-96; New York City Police Department, commissioner, 1996-2000. SafirRosetti, Omnicon Group, Inc. (security consulting firm), New York, NY, partner, chairman, and chief executive officer, 2001—. National coordinator of special operations, Southeast Asia Interdiction Program, 1971; national coordinator of special operations, Mexican National Heroin Interdiction Program, 1975; representative of drug abuse task force, Presidential Law Enforcement Committee Domestic Council, 1975; operational director of security force for foreign delegations, U.N. General Assembly, 1979-89; Delegate to Interpol General Assembly, 1981-88; director of security, Presidential Task Force on Victims of Crime, 1982; member of national drug policy board, National Office of Drug Policy, 1986-88; director, Warrant Apprehension Narcotic Team Program, 1989. Military service: United States Marine Corps Reserve, 1960-66.


International Association of Chiefs of Police (chairman, North American subcommittee and chairman, international advisory committee, 1988-90, member of executive committee, 1996—), International Association of Intelligence Analysts, American Society for Industrial Security, Pi Delta Epsilon.


Ellis Island Medal of Honor, 1996; U.S. Marshals Service Meritorious Service Award; Attorney General's Achievement Award; two Presidential Meritorious Executive awards.


(With Ellis Whitman) Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your City, Yourself, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.


During Howard Safir's tenure as New York City police commissioner from 1996 to 2000, the city saw a dramatic reduction in crime. Safir was in charge of a police department with more than forty thousand officers, and a yearly operating budget of some $3.7 billion, "larger than many Fortune 500 companies," noted Tim Delaney in Library Journal. The efforts of Safir and his department brought about a thirty-eight-percent reduction in major crime throughout city, along with a forty-four-percent reduction in homicides related to major crimes, bringing the total number of murders down to 667, the lowest number in thirty years, according to a biography of Safir on the SafirRosetti Web site. He introduced more than three dozen major drug initiatives; established "model blocks" in each borough, designed to prevent the return of drug dealers to the areas; and implemented a system of closed-circuit televisions monitoring subways, parks, and housing developments. Safir also expanded firearms training for police officers and urged expanded use of DNA evidence in police work.

In Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your City, Yourself, Safir applies a seasoned expert's viewpoint to issues of modern law enforcement and security. Safir offers "an insider's tour of the cutting-edge law enforcement techniques that impressively reduced the crime rate in New York City," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. He examines techniques based on technology, forensics, and old-fashioned police legwork; and he explains police procedures in areas such as surveillance, gathering of evidence at crime scenes, and narcotics investigations. Safir also explores topics related to terrorism, homeland security, and basic safety. Furthermore, the book includes historical material, such as information on the history of fingerprinting, the development of DNA as a means of evidence, and the use of computers in areas such as criminal tracking. Safir explains his "broken windows" crime-fighting theory in which he states that greater attention paid to smaller crimes will ultimately have an effect on curbing larger crimes. The book provides details on the role that law enforcement plays in daily life, particularly in a post-911 world of heightened security consciousness.

However, the Publishers Weekly critic felt that Safir glosses over national scandals that occurred during his tenure, such as the Abner Louima assault by police officers and the Amadou Diallo shooting. The book's lack of personal information, discussion of scandal, and in-depth insight, as well as Safir's apparent unwillingness to admit to any mistakes during his tenure, results in a book that is "characterless and less than fully revealing," the Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded. Delaney remarked that "it does not really add anything significantly new to the literature available on crime fighting in New York City," but praised the work as "a well-written book."



Library Journal, May 15, 2003, Tim Delaney, review of Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your City, Yourself, p. 105.

New York Daily News, June 23, 2003, George Rush and Joanna Mollow with Suzanne Rozdeba and Ben Widdicombe, "Safir's Book Goes Gunning for Kelly," p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2003, review of Security, p. 54.


Hofstra University Web site, (April 2, 2004), "Howard Safir."

SafirRosetti Web site, (April 2, 2004).


"Blackout on the East Coast: Interview with Former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir" (television transcript), O'Reilly Factor, Fox, August 14, 2003.*