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Is Safir looking for private gig?

November 22, 1999

Is Police Commissioner Howard Safir looking to bail out of the NYPD? That's the buzz among the tight-lipped world of top police brass and private security people-specifically that Safir is talking to the beleaguered security firm of Kroll Associates.

Kroll's president, Michael Cher- kasky, who just returned from Florida with supremo Jules Kroll, told One Police Plaza: "We're friends, but I can't talk to you about this. There's nothing I can say about it." Kroll Associates, whose stock price fell from $47 to $12 after a 1997 merger, was recently purchased by the Blackstone Group for more than $400 million.

Hiring a well-known law enforcement figure-especially a New York City police commissioner-"gives it instant credibility, at least temporarily," an industry figure said.

There is also a precedent, of sorts. Robert McGuire, police commissioner under Mayor Edward I. Koch from 1978 to 1983, served as Kroll's president for a decade after leaving the department. Cherkasky, the former head of investigations for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgen- thau, succeeded him in 1997.

Exactly what sort of position-if any-Safir might fill at Kroll is unclear.

Jules Kroll is also known to romance prospective employees over long periods without hiring them.

Asked about the possibility of his joining Kroll, Safir's spokeswoman, Marilyn Mode, declined to comment.

"I'm not concerned with this story and neither is he," she said.

The Quest. In our continuing efforts to penetrate the miasma of Howard Safir's background, we now examine his claims of military service.

So far the search for the real Howard, who likes to intimate things about himself that are not quite what they seem, has revealed the following: Contrary to his claim of graduating from Brooklyn School of Law, he flunked out.

Contrary to descriptions of him as the city's first Jewish police commissioner, Safir, though born a Jew, never attended a single Jewish-sponsored event as fire commissioner.

Contrary to his claim of having hunted down the Asian drug lord Khun Sa, he admitted-after his predecessor, Bill Bratton, and Your Humble Servant called him on it-that he had done no such thing.

As for his military record, Safir's resume says he served in the Marine reserves from 1960 to 1966. He has organized Marine Corps anniversary celebrations at One Police Plaza, sitting on the dais with decorated leathernecks.

According to Sgt. Bill Lisbon of the Marine Corps public affairs office at Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C., Safir's Marine experience consisted of two six-week platoon leadership classes at Quantico, Va., the second of which he washed out of.

"He did not successfully complete the senior course of platoon leaders' class," Lisbon said, reading from Safir's official Marine record. "I don't know why he failed out. The record does not say." Safir was then placed in the Marine Corps reserves from 1962 to 1966. "All of his time was in E Company, 2nd Batallion, 4th Marine Divison, based in Garden City. He wore the uniform and received an honorable discharge on Feb 12, 1966," Lisbon said.

The Gate.
As if relations between reporters and the Police Department were not bad enough, its Public Information Office has built a wooden gate to keep reporters out.

The gate is part of an office remodeling plan that includes an enlarged, carpeted office for Deputy Commissioner Marilyn Mode, three VCRs and space in a corner for her dog Lil to flop in while not eating anyone's lunch. (In the past month Lil has eaten the lunches of two people. Mode purchased new sandwiches for them.) Mode and company have cited various reasons for The Gate-such as reporters' eavesdropping on cops' conversations, reading their confidential reports and stealing candy.

Reporters suspect other reasons for The Gate, such as permitting the office's four lieutenants to remain unnoticed in their cubicles and obscuring Mode's disappearance from her office for hours on end to attend "meetings" on the 14th floor and not returning until 5 p.m. to begin her working day.

Calendar Check.
Nov. 19. Most recent meeting of the Conflicts of Interest Board, regarding Safir's $7,000 Academy Awards trip, a freebie from the Revlon Corp., last March 19.

Result of meeting: none.

Number of days since Safir's trip with no resolution: Lost count.

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© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.