Advertisement

City cop union enters fray over prof arrest in Cambridge

The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which represents active duty and retired city cops, has jumped into the national debate over the arrest of a black Harvard professor by Cambridge cops investigating a break-in at the scholar's home. President Obama criticized the arrest, sparking an even more furious debate over cops and racial profiling. At left, in an Associated Press photo, Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas addresses the media over the arrest.

Robert F. Cherry, the president of the Baltimore's FOP, wrote on the union's website:

We certainly don't know all the facts yet and on Thursday the sergeant who made the arrest, James Crowley, fired back, saying it was the homeowner's fault he got arrested. That homeowner, Henry Louis Gates Jr., is one of the country's leading scholars on race issues.

Advertisement

To me, the case hinges on nuance. Gates returned from a trip, found himself locked out of his house and with the help of a friend broke in. A concerned neighbor called 911 and police came. By then, Gates was inside, and the officer must ascertain whether this man owns the house or had broken into it in a burglary.

What transpired next is in dispute. Gates says he showed the officer a driver's license to prove he lived there and the officer berated him. The officer says Gates showed him a Harvard ID that did not list his home address, and further attempts to prove his residency was met with a combative argument that ended in his arrest.

The officer needs to make sure everything is ok in the home and the homeowner should realize that the officer is doing his job and be appreciative that both a neighbor cared to call and that the police responded promptly.

Was the officer argumentative and rude, prompting Gates to go off? Or did Gates get offended when the officer pressed for more personal details? A simple miscommunication might be at the root of what is now a national debate.

I'd love to hear from cops and residents of Baltimore on their experiences along these lines.

Advertisement
Advertisement