Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Release #307-00

Contact: Sunny Mindel / Michael Anton (212) 788-2958
  Marilyn Mode (DCPI) (212) 374-6700


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today thanked Police Commissioner Howard Safir for his distinguished service to the City of New York, as Commissioner Safir-joined by his wife Carol-announced that he will be leaving the New York City Police Department to take a position in the private sector.

"The renaissance of New York City has been built on a foundation of crime reduction, and for the last four years, Howard Safir has worked tirelessly to increase safety and the quality of life for all New Yorkers," Mayor Giuliani said. "The extent to which he's succeeded—on his watch, crime is down by 38%, and homicide by 44%—is not only remarkable, it's a testament to his skill and dedication. During Howard's tenure, the Department reduced crime by more than it has under any other Police Commissioner. Howard has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in law enforcement. I wish him the best as he begins this new chapter in his life."

Police Commissioner Safir said, "For more than four years it has been my honor and my privilege to serve as the leader of the greatest police department in the world. This organization is made up of police officers, detectives and leaders who every day and every night go out and earn the title New York's Finest, and to have the opportunity to lead them and serve the people of New York City is something I have cherished and will always look back on with pride."

Commissioner Safir was appointed the 39th Police Commissioner of the City of New York by Mayor Giuliani on April 15, 1996. The length of his tenure is exceeded by only six of his predecessors. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Safir served for more than two years as the City's Fire Commissioner.

As head of the largest police department in the nation, Howard Safir oversaw the NYPD as the Department reduced crime by more than any other large-city police department in the nation, and established New York City as the safest large city in America.

Under Safir's leadership, the NYPD reduced homicides in New York City by 44% and major crimes by 38%. In addition, the murder rate in New York City has dropped to its lowest level in three decades, and this year, the borough of Manhattan is on a pace to end the year with the fewest homicides since 1937.

Throughout his tenure at the NYPD, Commissioner Safir has consistently maintained that-despite the already historic crime reductions enjoyed by the City-crime rates could be driven down even further. A 7.4% drop in major crime citywide during the first half of 2000 supports his contention. The success has been even greater in the City's housing developments, which have enjoyed a 9.2% decrease in major crime during the first 6 months of the year.

Commissioner Safir credits these declines to the Department's numerous crime control initiatives established under his leadership, including:

Commissioner Safir has also instituted a Citywide anti-gang strategy, which includes the establishment of a gang unit in every borough, a Citywide gang unit in the Organized Crime Control Bureau, and evidence collection teams throughout the City to ensure that all serious felonies receive an appropriate investigative response. These efforts have resulted in reduced arrest-to-arraignment time, from 26.6 hours in 1995 to 21.6 hours in 1999, and an increase in the number of court-ordered Civil Nuisance Abatement closures, from 153 in 1995 to over 650 in 1999.

Commissioner Safir's tenure is also marked by the many innovations he initiated to improve managerial and organizational efficiency in the NYPD, including the creation of the Northern Manhattan Initiative, which brought together the NYPD, New York State and New Jersey Law enforcement, and several Federal agencies to provide a coordinated response to illegal drug trafficking in Northern Manhattan.

He also oversaw the transfer into the NYPD of 2,200 Traffic Control Agents from the Department of Transportation, and 3,500 School Safety personnel from the Board of Education.

In one of his first acts as Police Commissioner, Howard Safir instituted the Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect (CPR) strategy which became a critical component of all Department training. As a result of these and other training enhancements, the NYPD has experienced a 21% decline in civilian complaints since 1995, and a 41% drop in allegations of excessive or unnecessary force. These accomplishments are the all the more impressive, in light of the fact that the Department grew by more than 5,000 officers during this period. Coupled with the fact that police shooting incidents are at a 33-year low, these statistics show that the NYPD is the most professional and most restrained law enforcement organization in the country.

Commissioner Safir also established himself as a leader in the national criminal justice community. He has been a tireless advocate for the expanded use of DNA technology in his role as a member of the Executive Board of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Citing the incredible success of the British, he has called for the universal DNA testing of all those arrested for fingerprintable offenses. He has testified before the National Commission on the Future of DNA and has been successful in convincing the IACP Executive Committee, the Major City Chiefs Association, and the National Sheriffs Association, unanimously to support his proposal.

Commissioner Safir instituted numerous efforts to assist officers, including:

Commissioner Safir is also a proponent of working with and assisting the city's youth. The Department's Summer Youth Academy grew from 125 students in 1995 to a citywide program with 1,114 participants in 1999. Commissioner Safir also established the largest Drug Abuse Resistance (DARE) program in the world, which trains more than 200,000 students, and enhanced the Law Enforcement Explorer program throughout the city, placing it in every precinct and enrolling more than 1,600 youths.

To further establish the Department as truly reflective of the communities it serves, Commissioner Safir implemented the most successful and most comprehensive recruitment drive in the history of the department, which attracted applicants to the Department of whom 67% were City residents, 30% were female, and 60% were minorities.

Commissioner Safir will be joining ChoicePoint, an Atlanta-based private information and technology firm, to work as a consultant on a number of strategic initiatives. He will also be joining the board of Investigative & Protective Services of America International, an Atlanta-based investigative organization.

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