July 25, 2009

Overreaction

I'm glad that Digby weighed in on the Gates arrest for "disrespecting" a police officer. I had the same reaction that she did when she read the analysis by police officer who posted on this topic on Crooked Timber.

And I wondered what Dr. Joseph McNamara would say about the philosophy that citizens need to show respect or all hell breaks lose. Here's what he thought about the corrupting of our police forces by the futile drug war. He was a leader of police officers and he expected those on his team to act as a "citizen peace officer, a peace officer whose fundamental duty is to protect life and be a community servant." Our society and our police force has been subtly corrupted by the tough on crime and war on criminals that has been running now for some 40 years and which has created a lack of trust between the police and their communities.

Today instead of being schooled in the art of Conflict Resolution, our police officers are being handed tasers to control the bad guys. As McNamara said in 1995 most whites didn't think police overreaction was a problem because they didn't experience it. Today, that might not be so true.

Posted by Mary at July 25, 2009 01:57 AM | Law/Justice | Technorati links |
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A copy of the Cambridge Police Department’s Incident Report prepared by Officer James Crowley in the arrest of Harvard professor Henry L. Gates, Jr as been made public. A review of the report, compared with the contents of the newly released 911 tape reveals that Officer Crowley misrepresented events described to him by the 911 caller.
Officer Crowley originally reported that he arrested Gates after responding to a 911 call alleging that two black men with backpacks forcibly entered a residence. See paragraph 3, line 6 of the Report: Henry Gates Arrest Report Since the 911 audio tape has been released, it is now apparent that Officer Crowley’s “Narrative” contains false statements of important facts.

The audio tape reveals that the 911 caller couldn’t tell the race of the two persons she described as two “gentlemen” entering the home. The tape also reveals that the 911 caller described two men as having suitcases rather than backpacks.

Posted by: medical insurance at August 1, 2009 11:23 AM

The difference between Crowley’s Narrative and the 911 audiotape is striking. It suggests that Crowley heard what he wanted to hear, or reported what he thought would be most compelling, to justify his arrest of Professor Gates. Crowley heard “backpacks” rather than “suitcases,” indicating that Crowley saw, and wanted others to see, Gates as a hoodlum to justify the arrest. Crowley heard “black males” rather than “gentlemen” for the same reason: to cast Gates as an undesirable to create probable cause to justify the arrest.

We want to give Officer Crowley the benefit of doubt because he is a peace officer and has taken an oath to serve and protect the public. But given his indignation at Gate’s request for an apology for wrongly arresting the Professor, and given what clearly looks like attempts to “cover his ass,” it becomes easy to view Crowley’s false statements as wholly planned and intentional. Moreover, it becomes easy to see his arresting Gates as racially motivated.

Posted by: Family health insurance at August 1, 2009 11:26 AM