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
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
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
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.
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