Howard Safir. Law enforcement veteran of 35 years. NYPD commissioner 1996 to 2000 under Mayor Giuliani. February 1999. The Amadou Diallo hysteria was on his watch. Street peddler, 22. Unarmed. No criminal record. Killed, 41 shots by four police officers. Gripping the city for months, it became a video, TV special, documentary, newspaper headline, Netflix …
Howard Safir. Law enforcement veteran of 35 years. NYPD commissioner 1996 to 2000 under Mayor Giuliani.
February 1999. The Amadou Diallo hysteria was on his watch. Street peddler, 22. Unarmed. No criminal record. Killed, 41 shots by four police officers. Gripping the city for months, it became a video, TV special, documentary, newspaper headline, Netflix film. Protests, marches, riots, violence, raging hatred. Sharp Al Sharpton front and center.
The city was on fire.
August 1997. The Abner Louima case was on his watch. Security guard. Arrested in a melee outside a nightclub, then tortured and abused by officers. Its story mobilized chaos, bloodshed, brutality, looting and large-scale racial tension in New York for months. An archival news story, it became a movie.
The city again on fire.
Safir: “When cops committed a criminal offense, I worked with the community. I called in leaders of the other side plus an equivalent number from the police department. We worked with each other. We achieved some peaceful solution. And there was no violence.
“With Diallo, the cops killed an innocent man. Not intentional. A mistake. We made that clear. There was anger and hate, but no violence. It stayed peaceful. It was either that — or be arrested.
“No. 1 rule: The first person looting any place like, for instance, a Macy’s, goes to jail. It was don’t blame the police commissioner. Of course, I had the mayor at my back. Rudy would not tolerate this lawlessness.
“We had 600 officers in civilian clothes then. That’s the anti-crime unit. They prevent things before they happen. Uniformed cops are for after it happens. Plainclothes guys are for before. We don’t have that unit anymore.
“The current commissioner is a good guy, but there’s a significant change in City Hall now. We had 1,200 officers going to graduate. That class was canceled. This siege continues. Goes up. Higher. It could continue maybe 18 months.”
The former commish, who now heads Safir Intelligence and Security, says: “Friends in the department tell me everyone who can retire is now trying to get out.”
Checking in with film
Telluride Film Festival, a biggie held beginning of September, won’t. Just canceled. Toronto and Venice, and the New York Film Festival are still to be determined … On Netflix you can now watch co-producer Charlize Theron in the summer action flick “The Old Guard.” The Oscar winner plays a gritty warrior. It’s immortal mercenaries protecting those monetizing their power by however, whatever and blaah blaah. You’ve seen her promoting it on TV.
We’ve had our share of crisis
Pros who worked with Nixon in 1968 remember its rioting and disorder. That it was worse than today, and shook cities, campuses. America was burning. It was Vietnam time. Plus there was its own pandemic — killer flu, also known as the Hong Kong flu. Nixon’s poll numbers were awful. But a “Law and Order” campaign turned things around by appealing to the “common man” — the hardhat.
It was Miami’s then-police chief who said: “When the looting starts the shooting starts.”
Bill O’Reilly’s ninth killing book, out Sept. 8, is fact/based history’s “Killing Crazy Horse.” It’s how the USA was formed post-revolution. Says O’Reilly, “People are now frightened by our lawless radicalism. And corporations surrendering to threats are actually helping the far left. It’ll be fascinating to see how the book will do in this insane climate.”
“I’m feeling better about the market. My broker set up a calculated, aggressive program designed to reach certain investment goals. Like getting even.”
Whimpered not only in New York, kids, not only in New York.