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.
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."
"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."
© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.