NYPD won't bend to criminality like Portland, Seattle police: former NYC top cop Howard Safir

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New York City won’t surrender to criminality like Portland and Seattle, ex-NYPD Police Commissioner Howard Safir told Fox News.

The city’s former top cop was responding to Black Lives Matter co-founder Hawk Newsome’s predictions of “bloodshed” if incoming Mayor Eric Adams reinstates an undercover police unit to target gun violence.   

Former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir August 8, 2000, when he announced his resignation as Commissioner. Safir, whose department has overseen dramatic drops in crime but suffered criticism over it’s tactics, resigned to take a job with a private sector security firm. (Reuters)

“What Newsome said about there being riots and bloodshed, he has a vast misunderstanding of the NYPD,” said Safir, who was appointed police commissioner in 1996 by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  

“It’s not Portland, it’s not Seattle, it’s not Minneapolis,” he said. “If Black Lives Matter commits crimes on the street, they will be arrested.”

Police abandoned the East Precinct in Seattle during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations there, and the area, rebranded as the Autonomous Zone, became the site of several shootings. 

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir (L) during a news conference. (Reuters)

After a tense sit-down Wednesday with the incoming mayor, Newsome told reporters that if Adams brought back the NYPD’s Anti-Crime Unit “there will be riots, there will be fire and there will be bloodshed.”

But Adams announced the next day the resurrection of the plainclothes unit. Newsome said the move would lead to police brutality that will trigger widespread unrest and violence.

Safir called Adams’ decision to bring back the task force “absolutely right.” Adams worked under Safir in the department.

(Getty Images)

The ex-commissioner, whose tenure was marked by a significant decline in crime, resigned in 2000 amid mounting criticism that his tactics were too extreme.

It was under his watch that two officers committed one of the most infamous crimes in the city’s history: the broomstick sexual assault of Abner Louima in a station house bathroom.

Safir stressed the importance of the Anti-Crime Unit, which began in 1994 and was disbanded under outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio last year.

Hawk Newsome (C) leads a chant during a Black Lives Matter protest in front of Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

He said patrol cops react to crimes in progress, they don’t go looking for guns and drugs, which is the role of the undercover unit.

“People who carry guns illegally are not going to jobs, they’re going out to commit crimes,” he added.

These plainclothes cops operate in poorer neighborhoods most affected by violence, and these cops are there to protect those communities, Safir explained. 

He called the status quo unacceptable.

“It’s a disgrace,” Safir said. “Crime has gone up in almost every category since de Blasio has been mayor. When I was the commissioner we were the safest large city in America.”

Fox News’ Andrew Murray contributed to this report.

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