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Upstaged for another honor

June 14, 1999

Departing Chief of Department Louis Anemone was to have been honored last Tuesday by a Brooklyn Law School student group, together with other law enforcement lights, including former police commissioner Ben Ward and the FBI's New York City director Lewis Schiliro.

But, say police sources, when Commissioner Howard Safir learned of this, his office contacted the president of the Law Enforcement Law Students Association, the group honoring Anemone and the others, and asked to be honored as well.

The group's president, Peter Christiansen, a retired detective and obviously no novice in dealing with high-octane egos, named Safir its "Man of the Year."

Christiansen says no one pressured him but allows that Safir was "nominated a little later."

This was not the first time Safir upstaged Anemone, although it was to be the last. Three years ago when the Ford Foundation awarded the Police Department's highly touted COMPSTAT computer statistics program an "Innovations in Government" award, Safir bumped Anemone from the foundation's nationally televised panel in Washington and appeared himself.

Safir's Brooklyn Law School maneuver was derided privately by both law enforcement officials and law school faculty. Some questioned the propriety of honoring a former student who'd failed to graduate - notwithstanding Safir's claim on his resume as fire commissioner to the contrary.

Brooklyn Law School spokeswoman Linda Harvey said Safir attended only from September, 1963, through January, 1965. His spokeswoman Marilyn Mode did not challenge assertions made to One Police Plaza last week that Safir withdrew because of poor grades, - i.e., flunked out.

Anemone, who more than anyone in the NYPD personified Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's take-no-prisoners approach to reducing crime, announced his retirement the day after the awards ceremony, amidst news accounts of a rift between him and Safir. The dark prince has called a news conference for this afternoon - a rarity for him - presumably to explain his reasons. If past is prologue, he will not mention the Brooklyn Law School incident - nor the fact that he didn't attend the awards ceremony the night before.

Another Big Dis.
No story of Anemone is complete without recalling his verbal attack on Safir's and Giuliani's crony, Queens car dealer and mayoral fund-raiser Howard Koeppel, which literally brought Koeppel to tears.

An honorary police commissioner under Safir, Koeppel had mistakenly sat down among top brass in the first-row pew of the Resurrection Ascention Church in Queens at the funeral of Lt. Federico Narvaez, killed in the line of duty in October, 1996. Hearing of his retirement, Koeppel sent Anemone a one-word telegram: "Congratulations."

And Fond Remembrance.
Nor can the story go untold of Anemone's kindness to 11-year-old Michael Levitt, attending his first World Series at Yankee Stadium in 1996, when, dressed in full four-star regalia outside the stadium, Anemone took a few moments to shake Michael's hand and say a few words to him, including: "And, Mike, tell your father to lighten up."

More From Safir's Unpublished Manuscript.
"I heard the door of my outer office and knew he had arrived. Lenardo Cleveland hoodlum Angelo Lenardo was a legend to all law enforcement officers." (We're skipping the rest of Safir's unsuccessful pursuit of Robert Vesco - too boring.)

"He Lenardo had probably ordered the murder of hundreds of men and women over his fifty years as a mafioso . . . When he realized he was going to jail and would probably die there, he decided to become a government witness and join the Witness Security Program . . .

" 'Would it be OK if I talked to you alone? " he asked Safir.

"I had been through this before," Safir writes. "For some reason they thought that because they had been a boss and I was in charge, that we had some sort of bond . . .

"Suddenly, he threw both arms around my shoulders and began to weep. My first thought was, they don't make mafiosos like they used to."

Next week:
Howard and Marilyn.

Best Line of the Week.
City hall aide Randy Levine's comment in the Daily News that departing Giuliani spokeswoman Cristyne Lategano was "the best communications director the city ever had." Hey, Randy, no other mayor ever had a "communications director." A press secretary was enough.

Second-Best Line.
Marilyn Mode's comment to Newsday, explaining the department's failure to notify her office that a cop had thrown a concussion grenade into a Bronx apartment, injuring another cop inside: "I didn't consider it a newsworthy event because hundreds of officers sustain minor injuries each year." Cristyne, don't go!

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© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.