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Howard Safir

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Howard Safir, the New York Police Department (NYPD) Police commissioner from 1996 to 2000 wrote “Security: Policing your Homeland, your State, your City.”  Howard 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 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.


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


Howard 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.


Howard 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.


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.


In his four years as Police Commissioner, he achieved a 38% reduction in major crime and reduced homicides by 44%, bringing the total number of murders in New York to 667, the lowest level in three decades.


To obtain these results, Commissioner Howard 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 police 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. Howard SafireHe has also been the country's leading voice in calling for the expansion of DNA use in policing. He developed and implemented Operation Condor, a creative use of personnel resources that continues to be a centerpiece of current New York Police Department (NYPD) crime reduction strategy.





Security: An Inside Look at the Tactics of the NYPD
Howard Safir  More Info

Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your State, Your City
Howard Safir  More Info

Publisher’s Weekly said of Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your State, Your City, “Reading alternately like an official itemized report and a puffed-up resume, this muddled book by former NYPD commissioner Safir sets out to offer an insider's tour of the cutting-edge law enforcement techniques that impressively reduced the crime rate in New York City. Although Safir covers a lot of ground, from the history of fingerprinting to computerized tracking of criminal patterns and the many applications of DNA analysis, his account is marred by cursory examination and sloppy writing. The book's real intention, apparently, is to put forward a thinly veiled defense of his management as commissioner from 1996 to 2000, but even as an apologia it offers almost nothing that has not already been said many times in his well-groomed public statements. Safir airs no dirty laundry, offers no personal information, entertains no ambiguity, skates over huge controversies (such as the Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo scandals, which received national attention) and admits to making no mistakes during his entire tenure as commissioner. He does, however, fill up many pages reminding readers of the exact percentage reductions in every criminal category in New York City under his leadership. This book should have been an important document, since Safir was, by many standards, an extremely successful commissioner and his personal and professional take on New York's success deserves to be heard; but as is, it's characterless and less than fully revealing.”

One reader of Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your State, Your City said, “With all the concern about homeland security I've been reading a lot on the subject. This is definitely one of the best (and clearest) descriptions of the Patriot Act, and it's helped me understand the complexities of the act and the way it impacts us. The passages describing prior attempted terrorism acts (in New York City), made me realize that 9/11 was one in a series of attempts. I also liked learning more about real police tactics and reading the behind the scenes descriptions of real crimes.”

According to the book description of Security: An Inside Look at the Tactics of the NYPD, “From counterterrorism to tracking criminals by satellite Safir's Security gives an expert's tour of 21st century law enforcement, and reveals the tools, methods, and science that police officers use to reduce crime, and track and apprehend criminals, including surveillance, crime scene evidence, DNA profiling, narcotics and quality of life enforcement. Security gives insight into how methods of enforcement need to be adapted to prevent terrorism, a look into the workings of a police department, and examines how the NYPD drastically reduced crime with Goal-Oriented Neighborhood Policing.”

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