|Commissioner of the Fire Department of the City of New York|
January 1, 1994 – April 15, 1996
|Nominated by||Rudolph W. Giuliani|
|Preceded by||William M. Feehan|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Von Essen|
|Commissioner of the Police Department of the City of New York|
April 15, 1996 – August 18, 2000
|Nominated by||Rudolph W. Giuliani|
|Preceded by||William J. Bratton|
|Succeeded by||Bernard B. Kerik|
Safir was appointed 29th Fire Commissioner of the City of New York by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on January 1, 1994 and served in that position until he was appointed 39th Police Commissioner of the City of New York by Giuliani on April 15, 1996. He served as Police Commissioner until his resignation on August 18, 2000. Safir currently serves as Chairman and CEO of Vigilant Resources International (VRI) and as host of The Badge with Howard Safir on SiriusXM Stars 107.
After growing up in the Bronx and Long Island, the son of Russian Jewish immigrant parents (his father was a presser in the garment district, his mother a switchboard operator), Howard Safir followed the example of his famous uncle Louis Weiner (who captured the bandit Willie Sutton), and after graduating from college in 1963, decided to become a lawman.
Safir received his B.A. in History and Political Science from Hofstra University in 1963. He attended Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, receiving certificates in the programs for Senior Managers in Government in 1988 and for National and International Security in 1989.
Safir began his law enforcement career in 1965 as a special agent assigned to the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a forerunner of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) and eventually, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
He advanced through the ranks of the DEA and in 1977 was appointed Assistant Director of the DEA. He moved to the U.S. Marshals Service in 1979 where he served as Chief of the Witness Security Division.
In 1984, he was named Associate Director for Operations, of the U.S. Marshals Service, a position he held until his retirement from the federal government in 1990.
Safir rejoined government service in 1994 when Mayor Giuliani asked him to serve as the New York City's 29th Fire Commissioner. When Police Commissioner William J. Bratton left his position in 1996, Giuliani appointed Safir to replace him.
Commissioner Safir implemented a comprehensive Fugitive Strategy and established thirty-nine major anti-drug initiatives throughout the city including the Northern Manhattan Initiative. He created model blocks in each borough to prevent eradicated drug dealing from returning and he introduced closed circuit television to ensure the safety of housing development residents, park visitors and subway riders.
Concerned for officer and public safety, he expanded firearms training and introduced Firearms Training Simulators. Under his leadership, firearms discharge incidents decreased from 344 in 1995 to 155 in 1999.
Safir served four years as Police Commissioner until he announced his resignation and retirement from government service in 2000.
Private sector employment
After Safir resigned as Police Commissioner in 2000, he immediately went to work as a consultant to the chief executive of ChoicePoint, Inc. and ultimately ran their Bode Technology Group subsidiary, which they purchased at Safir's urging in April 2001.
In February 2007, Safir became CEO of Bode Technology when GlobalOptions Group, Inc. acquired The Bode Technology Group from ChoicePoint in a cash purchase for $12.5 million. Mr. Safir is currently CEO of VRI Technologies LLC.
Safir is a member of the executive committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and has served as a delegate to INTERPOL, the National Drug Policy Board and the El Paso Intelligence Center Advisory Board.
Awards and honors
Throughout his career, Howard Safir has been recognized frequently for his outstanding service. In 1996, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
He was twice awarded the Presidential Meritorious Executive Award. Additionally, he received the U.S. Marshals Service Meritorious Service Award and the Attorney General's Achievement Award, in addition to many other citations and awards.
Mr. Safir is a member of the Board of Trustees of The New York City Police Museum and Hofstra University. He is a member of the Board of Visitors to CIA University. In addition he is Chairman of GVI Security Solutions, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors of Verint Systems, Inc. and Blastgard International. Mr. Safir also serves as an advisor to Document Security Systems, Inc., SISCO Systems and Bio-Key International.
Safir met Carol Ferrara while he was working as a waiter in the Poconos during the summer of 1962, and they were married three years later. Married for over 42 years, they currently maintain residences in the historic district of Annapolis, Maryland and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They have a son, Adam, who is an attorney, and a daughter, Jennifer, who is an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In 2010, Safir hit a pregnant woman with his SUV. His female passenger screamed "Are you not looking, there’s someone there," then he drove off. Safir was tracked down through his license plate but no charges were filed.
- Safir, Howard, with Ellis Whitman. Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your State, Your City. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2003. 282 pages. ISBN 0312301944.
- Baker, Russ and Josh Benson. "The Commish Bites Back: Howard Safir Explains His Life to His Critics". The New York Observer, May 16, 1999. Accessed December 20, 2007.
- Bode Technology - Management Team – Howard Safir, Chief Executive Officer
- Furse, Jane. "Carol Safir's lucky streak", New York Daily News, April 21, 1996. Accessed December 20, 2007.
- Blair, Jayson. "NEW YORKERS & CO.; I Am a Policeman and I Play One on TV", The New York Times, September 19, 1999. Accessed December 20, 2007.
- AL BAKER and SARAH WHEATON. "Ex-Police Official Backs Car Into Pregnant Woman", The New York Times, January 8, 2010. Accessed December 22, 2014.
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William M. Feehan
Thomas Von Essen
William J. Bratton