Howard Safir

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Howard Safir
Commissioner of the Fire Department of the City of New York
In office
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
In office
April 15, 1996 – August 18, 2000
Nominated by Rudolph W. Giuliani
Preceded by William J. Bratton
Succeeded by Bernard B. Kerik
Personal details
Born Howard Safir
(1942-02-24) February 24, 1942 (age 74)

Howard Safir (born February 24, 1942) was New York City Fire Commissioner from 1994 to 1996 and New York City Police Commissioner from 1996 to 2000.

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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1]

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.[citation needed]

Government service[edit]

BNDD agents Don Strange (r.) and Howard Safir (l.) arrest Timothy Leary in 1972

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

He developed and implemented Operation Condor, a creative use of personnel resources, that continues to be a centerpiece of current NYPD crime reduction strategy.[citation needed]

Safir served four years as Police Commissioner until he announced his resignation and retirement from government service in 2000.

Private sector employment[edit]

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.[2] Mr. Safir is currently CEO of VRI Technologies LLC.

Professional memberships[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Family life[edit]

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.[3]


In 1997, Safir appeared on the ABC TV series NYPD Blue, playing himself.[4]

In 2010, Safir backed his SUV into a pregnant woman. His female passenger screamed, "Are you not looking, there’s someone there." He then drove off. Safir was tracked down through his license plate but no charges were filed.[5]



  • Safir, Howard with Ellis Whitman (2003). Security : policing your homeland, your city, yourself. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. 


  • Safir, Howard (April 20, 2015). "Police brutality is inexcusable—and rare". United States. Crime. Time (South Pacific ed.). 185 (14): 22–23. 


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Bode Technology - Management Team – Howard Safir, Chief Executive Officer
  3. ^ Furse, Jane. "Carol Safir's lucky streak", New York Daily News, April 21, 1996. Accessed December 20, 2007.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ AL BAKER and SARAH WHEATON. "Ex-Police Official Backs Car Into Pregnant Woman", The New York Times, January 8, 2010. Accessed December 22, 2014.

External links[edit]

Fire appointments
Preceded by
William M. Feehan
FDNY Commissioner
Succeeded by
Thomas Von Essen
Police appointments
Preceded by
William J. Bratton
NYPD Commissioner
Succeeded by
Bernard Kerik