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It pays to be a Safir civilian

May 19, 1997

Last week Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejected a suggestion that increased productivity should warrant raises for cops. Maybe that's because the mayor doesn't want anyone asking questions about the hefty salaries of three civilians in Police Commissioner Howard Safir's office, and the lack of productivity thereof.

Let's begin with Richie Sheirer, known as "Bumper" for his girth and the manner in which he prevents people from approaching Safir. Bumper, whom Safir brought with him from the fire department, holds the title of Deputy Commissioner of Administration. He earns $100,730.

Sheirer was heralded as Safir's chief-of-staff, but people at One Police Plaza say Sheirer, who lacks a law enforcement background, never got the hang of it. He spent a week with ex-commissioner Bill Bratton's chief-of-staff, Col. Peter LaPorte, to prepare for the job but as a former police official put it, "He was like a deer in the headlights."

Says another former police official: "Richie used to attend police briefings, but chiefs and their underlings noticed he spent more time at the City Hall and had the mayor's ear. Now he's more like the mayor's advance man. He goes to crime scenes and briefs the mayor."

Last week Sheirer accompanied Safir to Washington, where Safir attended a national police memorial service. Two weeks ago, Councilman Sheldon Leffler had called Sheirer to convey the concerns of Queens residents who feared the 107th Precinct station house might be moved because the building's lease had expired. At a captial budget hearing last Thursday, Leffler mentioned Sheirer hadn't returned his phone call. "He's probably very busy," Leffler said later.

Now let's turn to Safir's second civilian coat holder, Todd Ciaravino. He comes from the office of Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, where he earned $26,000-a-year as a "chauffeur attendant." When Giuliani became mayor, he appointed him an administrative assistant at $65,000. But Todd fell out with the Madame Defarge of the Giuliani administration, Communications Director Cristyne Lategano. Instead of the guillotine, City Hall packed him off to Police Plaza, handed him a key to the top brass' executive elevator, a $69,000 salary and buried him in Safir's 14th floor office.

Finally, let's look at the man believed to be Safir's actual chief-of-staff, his buddy from the Federal Marshal's Service, Alfred McNeill. McNeill is Safir's stealth hire.

Deputy Police Commissioner for Public Information Marilyn Mode, who is paid $100,730 to not provide information, refuses to reveal anything about him, including his salary, title or job description.

Printable versionBut according to city records, McNeill was hired last July at a salary of $61,000 as an "administrative manager." People at Police Plaza describe him as tall, slim, with glasses, in his fifties, a chain-smoker in an allegedly smoke-free building and who sits in on all meetings with Safir and the chiefs. "He's a very nice guy," says one chief, "but we don't know what he does."

The wink. Deputy Inspector Henry Krantz, who headed the much-investigated Pistol Licensing Division, was awarded a prized line-of-duty disability pension last week. The pension - courtesy of the notorious PBA-sponsored Heart Bill - will pay Krantz about $60,000 a year, tax-free, and should more than offset his $10,000 fine for showing favoritism to firearms dealer Michael Zerin and Zerin's friend Gus Bevona, the $400,000-a-year union boss who had sought a target permit to shoot at Zerin's pistol range.

Zerin - whose business Krantz had sought to purchase - is at the heart of a federal probe stemming from his having given thousands of dollars in freebies to another inspector friend, Charles Luisi. Last month Luisi was denied a disability pension.

Reign of terror? Here are the thoughts of four anonymous NYPD chiefs, when asked whether they thought the department logged their telephone calls with reporters, a question the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information refuses to answer.

Chief One: "Most feel that way. I wouldn't put it past them. I could see outgoing calls. That is easy. I don't know enough about the telephone to know about incomings. One thing's for sure: there's a reign of terror here."

Chief Two: "It wouldn't surprise me. All they'd have to do is get the billings. Anyone could authorize it. It may not even come from this side of the Plaza. It could come from City Hall."

Chief Three: "It's a lot of work. And for what? They're not that stupid. But then again. . ."

Chief Four: "I have never heard of anything like that. At least no one has ever told that to me."

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.