Mark Green, Anti-Cop? Only in Rudy’s World

Of the Public Advocate’s impudent foray into matters of law

enforcement, Mayor Giuliani said: “This is another one of those guffaws by Mark

Green.” The mere utterance of Mr. Green’s name so enrages the Mayor that he

loses control of his well-stocked vocabulary of invective. Another one of those

“guffaws”? Mr. Green is rather notorious for immensely quotable flippancy, but

few would describe him as a regular guffawer. Perhaps the Mayor meant to say

that by daring to suggest that perhaps some police officers are a little, you know,

overly enthusiastic in the pursuit of law and order, Mr. Green had committed

yet another gaffe. From the Mayor’s point of view, Mr. Green’s list of gaffes

is endless, beginning with the Public Advocate’s impertinent insistence on

getting out of bed every morning and showing up for the work voters have

assigned him.

Mr. Giuliani will do everything he can to make sure that Mr.

Green does not inherit the master bedroom in Gracie Mansion after New York

voters send the Mayor to Washington next year. He would rewrite the City

Charter if he could get away with it to change the line of succession. Failing

that, he will utilize his wondrous capacity for incivility to smear Mr. Green

as a mugger-loving pinko who can’t wait to make the city safe for homicidal maniacs.

To wit, this choice quote from Mr. Giuliani regarding Mr. Green: “I guess he

wants to position himself as the anti-police, anti-law-enforcement candidate.”

Yes, yes, yes: Mark Green, father of teenage girls, is

eagerly awaiting the day when he can stay up late at night worrying about the

safety of his children.

What got Mr. Giuliani spouting bilge was the Public

Advocate’s revelation, based on statistics and public information that had to

be wrenched out of City Hall, that police brass

unilaterally decided not to discipline hundreds of

officers whom the Civilian Complaint Review Board cited for misconduct. Mr.

Green based his findings on a study of complaints filed against the police from

1994 to 1997. He’d have looked into complaints filed last year, too, but City

Hall decided that the second-highest elected official in the city shouldn’t be

privy to such information. As the Mayor said, “This is somebody running for

Mayor and running for Mayor by attacking the Police Department.” Howard Safir,

the Police Commissioner who can be depended on to echo his patron’s every

utterance, chimed in with cheapness worthy of the Mayor: “What Mark Green is

doing is flaunting things that reflect negatively on the Police Department,

which is not uncommon for Mark Green.”

Uh, are you sure about that, Mr. Safir? Does Mr. Green really  flaunt things that reflect negatively on the Police Department? Is

he at the head of every demonstration against police brutality? Does he rally

the forces of outrage every time the police shoot an unarmed civilian? Is he

the go-to quotemeister the press turns to when police are found to be, say,

strip-searching perps allegedly guilty of petty misdemeanors? Not exactly -

that’s why we have the Rev. Al Sharpton.

If anything, Mr. Green is perhaps a bit too cautious, a bit

too aware of the stereotype that City Hall, the New York Post and others have created. He may have been a Nader’s Raider, and he may still leap at

the chance to denounce heartless merchants

who raise the price of eggs by a dime a dozen every Easter, but

ultimately Mr. Green is a politician who can read poll data and judge public

sensibilities. He is no more likely to run as

an “anti-police” candidate than Bill Bradley is to embrace the

Democratic Party platform of 1972-the year Mr. Giuliani supported George

McGovern.

What Mr. Green may ask, however, is that the Police

Department and its officers be held to high standards of conduct, and that

officers who dishonor their badges be disciplined. In Mr. Giuliani’s world,

this is akin to demanding that the Police Department be turned over to the

administrators of the city’s Human Resources Administration.

No serious city politician in full possession of his or her

faculties would run, or indeed has ever run, on an anti-police, anti-law-enforcement

platform. Mr. Green has been to enough police funerals to know that law

enforcement is dangerous work, that police officers put their lives on the line

with every tour of duty. He may not be a former prosecutor noted for his

skepticism of civil liberties, but he understands that police officers perform

heroic work.

Mr. Giuliani’s loathing of his rival is such that he

probably really believes that Mr. Green secretly harbors dreams of leading a

parade for the freed F.A.L.N. members, making Mr. Sharpton his Police

Commissioner and flinging open the doors at Rikers Island. He probably has

convinced himself that Mr. Green really would reduce the size of the Police

Department to make room for more social workers.

He’s entitled to his opinion. But you have to wonder.