In the late ’90s, Bill Bratton described his NYPD successor, Howard Safir, as “The Rodney Dangerfield of law enforcement.”
Today, Safir still isn’t getting much respect.
Jane Mayer, a writer for the New Yorker, has identified Safir’s security firm, Vigilant Resources International, where he is chairman, as the source of false plagiarism allegations against her. Apparently, the allegations were in retaliation for a 2010 story Mayer wrote that described the role of billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch in the tea party movement.
Mayer makes her charge against the former NYPD commissioner in her new book on the Koch brothers, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.”
In a telephone interview, Mayer did not specify the actions Vigilant took against her, nor how she learned of Vigilant’s alleged role. Safir’s son, Adam, who is Vigilant’s president, told The New York Times’ Jim Dwyer: “As far as what we do, we don’t talk about clients, whether we have them or don’t have them. Even answering the question would violate the policy of our business.”
Neither of the Safirs returned telephone calls for comment.
Smearing Mayer is reflective of Safir’s contempt for reporters and the media in general when he was police commissioner. Testy and taciturn, the former federal marshal had a perennial scowl as if he’d just bitten into a lemon.
“Get on the train or get under it,” was his mantra after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani appointed him commissioner in 1996.
As commissioner, he had two goals. First was denigrating Bratton, whom Giuliani had forced out. Second was keeping crime down. Safir succeeded at both, but at a price. Safir’s NYPD crime-fighting was marred by the shooting of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx. The unarmed African immigrant was fired upon 41 times by officers of an elite unit who were later acquitted at trial. The incident is one of the worst officer-involved shootings in NYPD history.
As for Bratton, Safir called him “some airport cop from Boston,” while noting that as a federal marshal, he himself had tracked down the Asian drug lord, Khun Sa. Bratton retorted that so far as he knew, Khun Sa had not been captured, and then compared Safir with Dangerfield.