Fulop taps controversial ex-NYPD/NYFD commish to lead search for Jersey City public safety director
Jun 21, 2013 | 3664 views | 0 0 comments | 145 145 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In one of several announcements made last week by Steven Fulop, the mayor-elect said that former New York City Police Department and Fire Department Commissioner Howard Safir and his company Vigilant Resources International have been retained to conduct a search for a public safety director for Jersey City. The company will also conduct an audit of the Jersey City Police Department structure.

Fulop said Vigilant Resources International will be paid through private donations raised by himself and “Building an Empire,” a Jersey City nonprofit headed by Ward F City Councilwoman Diane Coleman. Money for the audit and search will be raised through local corporate businesses. No tax dollars will be used.

“We’re making a break from the way it has been done in the past because I’m committed to providing the best public safety services possible. Jersey City deserves the best and brightest to oversee public safety,” Fulop said in a press release last Thursday.

Safir was appointed fire commissioner in New York City under the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1994. Two years later, Giuliani appointed him police commissioner, a position he held until 2000.

Safir is the only person to serve as both fire and police commissioner in New York City. During his tenure as police commissioner, major crimes decreased by 38 percent, while homicides fell 44 percent to their lowest level in three decades, according to Fulop’s office. But his tenure as police commissioner was also marked by criticism from New York’s African American and Latino communities that he was slow to address allegations of police misconduct and brutality. Two of the city’s most infamous cases took place during his watch.

In 1997, Abner Louima was forcibly sodomized in the 70th Precinct with a broomstick handle by NYPD officer Justin Volpe while another officer held Louima down. (Volpe eventually pleaded guilty and is currently serving a 30-year sentence for the incident. A second former NYPD cop, Charles Schwarz, was sentenced to 5 years behind bars for his role in the assault.)

In 1999, Amadou Diallo was killed in a hail of 41 gunshots by four plainclothes NYPD officers after he took his wallet out of his pocket.

Despite this history, Fulop said, “Howard Safir has the knowledge, experience and contacts to help ensure that our director of public safety has the leadership, management, technical and interpersonal skills to be a productive member of my administration. I am confident we will attract new leadership for our world-class police and fire departments, resulting in less crime, better response times, and fewer citizen complaints.”

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