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POLICE WOMAN: Police commissioner Ray Kelly enlisted the help of a veteran of the fashion world, the former publisher of Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar, to do public relations work for the New York City Police Department. Valerie Salembier, who left Hearst Corp. in December, is the department’s new assistant deputy commissioner, and she has been assigned to the public information office with a part-time position facilitating press relations.
In what areas will she be involved? “Everything and anything that makes news that has to do with the NYPD. My goal is to put out good news because there’s always good news, such as the murder rate being down,” Salembier said. Does that mean she’ll also be on call if there’s, say, a city emergency? And will she be doing communications work for the commissioner himself? In those cases, Salembier said she’ll be working as part of the larger press relations team at the department, “when necessary or when called for.”
It’s not the first time a fashion veteran from the Hearst family has been recruited for public service in New York — Cathie Black, the former Hearst Magazines president, was drafted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as Chancellor of New York City schools before she retired her name amid widespread criticism. Salembier and Black are longtime friends who worked together on the launch of USA Today in the early Eighties. Salembier later went on to become the president of the New York Post until 1990 and did a tour of duty running several magazines at Hearst, including Esquire and Bazaar. Her swan song at the Tower was Town & Country, which lasted for a little more than a year.
Salembier, who also has two independent consulting businesses, said the police gig came about through a personal relationship. “The police commissioner asked me. I’ve been working with him for 25 years,” she said. Salembier has worked with Kelly in her capacity as a board member of the New York City Police Foundation. “I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement.” And what of her old friends in fashion, what do they think? “I think they are very pleased about it. It gives me, frankly, more visibility,” she said.
RELATED STORY: Valerie Salembier Speaks Candidly at Women's Voices for Change Luncheon >>