Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gates Gate

A travel fatigued and sickly college professor walking with a cane was arrested by Cambridge police and everybody has to chime in. Talk radio filled countless hours of air time. The President, after admitting he didn’t have all the facts, decided the police acted stupidly.

Now we have a right wing representative from Michigan pushing for a congressional resolution demanding Obama apologize to the Cambridge Police Department. Representative Thaddeus McCotter must come from a very prosperous district in the state. Michigan is suffering the highest unemployment rate in the country. Old Thaddeus has his priorities, though. I bet those unemployed constituents are cheering his noble crusade for truth and justice, while they eat their boxed mac and cheese and count their remaining food stamps.

We all know what happened. Henry Louis Gates was returning home from China and found his front door jammed shut. A neighbor saw him attempting to push it open, called the police and reported a possible B and E. She mentioned in her call that the guy had luggage and may even live there.

Sgt. Crowley arrived to save the day. Soon professor Gates was placed in handcuffs, arrested and carted off to jail. So, what’s the big deal? Nothing stupid was done, right?

Yes, Gates did get upset and he made some remarks like the cop not knowing who he was “messing with”.

I read the officers’ report and learned that Gates presented ID after the officer had entered the house. Crowley stated Gates “appeared to be a resident but was uncooperative”. Gates was indignant and annoyed about the cop’s intrusiveness. Crowley asked Gates to “step out onto the porch and speak to me”. That’s a smart way to calm someone down, right?

Crowley reported he was “led to believe Gates was lawfully in the residence”. Then as Crowley was leaving the residence he told Gates he would, “speak with him outside.” So Crowley was followed out onto the porch.

Professor Gates was then arrested for “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior.”

I have 25 years of experience in a maximum security environment. I have been in many situations that required an even temperament to prevent people from getting hurt. After reading the cops' report, I see this could be a good teaching case for officers to learn about unnecessary escalation of an incident.

Crowley certainly could have been more professional about this. It was obvious that these were not young thugs attempting a B and E. The “step outside” line could have been regarded as over-reaching and even threatening. The situation could have been de-escalated if the cop had a cooler head. After the cop knew Gates lived there, it was the officers’ presence that escalated the situation. Crowley should have left the scene. His business was finished. By his staying, the situation became a contest of egos, not a public safety matter.

Cops are not paid to win a shouting match at a person’s home.

This is assuming the report was written in complete honesty. Cops do lie sometimes.

I agree Obama should have kept his mouth shut on this, but he was right the first time. Crowley acted stupidly and let the situation blow up out of proportion.


Unknown said...

'Stepping outside' as police tactic to facilitate arrest.

billie said...

cops get paid to be professional. period. more often than not, they believe that they are paid to take the law into their own hands. obama should not have apologized.

Holte Ender said...

I was of the mind that it was a big-time misunderstanding until I heard the 911 tapes. The caller said the men wrestling with the door had travel bags and she was not sure if they lived there or not, she couldn't describe the men accurately. It all boils down to, even if you are 100% right, never mouth off to a cop. even if you are an Havard professor with a cane, inside your own home.
Obama should have kept out and should stay out, forget the beer.

Dave Dubya said...

Thanks. That seems to the how they operate.

They DO often want to be more than law enforcement officers. They want to be "attitude enforcement" as well.

Holte Ender,
I agree. Drop the phoney beer summit, unless Crowley apologizes.