Saturday, January 09, 2010


A lot of people who didn't have firsthand experience of Rudy Giuliani tenure as mayoral understandably ascribe the worst excesses of Rudy's police force to Rudy's best-known police commissioner. But Bernie Kerik became commissioner only after the deaths of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond, and the precinct torture of Abner Louima. All that happened on the watch of Kerik's predecessor -- Howard Safir.

Who, we learn from today's New York Times, is still a jerk:

Howard Safir, a New York City police commissioner during the Giuliani administration, backed his sport utility vehicle into a pregnant woman on the Upper East Side on Friday afternoon and then drove away, the police said.

The woman, Joanne M. Valarezo, 30, of the Bronx, was not knocked down and was not seriously injured in the accident, which occurred at 2:25 p.m. in front of 1418 Third Avenue, the authorities said. They said she was able to jot down the license plate of Mr. Safir's black 2009 Cadillac Escalade.

Ms. Valarezo was taken by ambulance to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she was treated for a bruised shoulder and then released, the police said. Ms. Valarezo's unborn child, nearing its seventh month, was apparently not affected, she later said.

Detectives ... determined that Mr. Safir was unaware that he had struck the woman before driving away, another law enforcement official said.

But the woman's account raised questions about that.

... "I was crossing the street in between cars and he hit reverse, and his female passenger screamed, 'Are you not looking, there's someone there,' and as he was reversing, he hit me on my shoulder and my knee and the side of my stomach," she said.

Then he started to drive away, she said.

"I confronted him and I said, 'I'm pregnant. Did you not see?' And he just disregarded that and kept going," she said. She said if the passenger had not screamed, causing her to turn, she would been hurt more seriously....

(The passenger was his wife.)

By the way, here's my favorite sentence in the story:

Mr. Safir's tenure as police commissioner was occasionally controversial.

Gee, you think? After the police brutality incidents, there was a series of protests in which hundreds of people, including ex-mayor Dinkins, Representative Charlie Rangel, and state comptroller Carl McCall, were arrested -- and even Ed Koch and Al Sharpton mended fences (Koch announced his intention to get arrested in an anti-brutality protest, though he backed out for health reasons). Safir was forced from office by the widespread anger.

Bizarre Safir factoid: He's a self-proclaimed Jimmy Buffett-loving Parrothead.

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