the “skip” gates fiasco

As a Police Officer it’s always safer to just keep ones mouth shut when it comes to matters of politics, race and public controversy; but in regards to this “mad professor” situation I am going to air some personal opinion. Keep in mind please that this is just one man’s opinion. It is not to be construed as an “official position” and in no way reflects the opinion of my dept.

The way I read this situation, it can be broken down into three areas. The officers actions, the professors actions and the presidents/media actions. My analysis:

The Cop: According to Sgt. Crowley’s report, he responded solo to a call of a burglary in progress with TWO possible suspects. While on the porch of the residence, the Sgt. sees a man inside, tells him that he is investigating a possible break-in and asks him to exit so he could talk to him and if there is anybody else in the house with him. This is a common and wise practice. You never want to go into a structure against a possible threat..especially alone. Calling the man out also means that if he is an innocent resident being held against his will, you may have the opportunity to remove him from danger. Instead of doing as he is asked, the professor starts out by being confrontational. He immediately injects race into the situation by claiming the only reason the cop is there is because he is a “black man in America”. Not something you want to do to a police officer that just told you the reason why he was there, investigating a possible break-in at your home. AKA-doing his job to protect YOUR PROPERTY. Eventually the professor comes to the door and continues to be disagreeable, at first refusing to provide the officer with ID. Once the officer has identified the man as the homeowner, the rest of the story is the continued, racially charged ranting that flows out onto the porch of the house, a public place in view of a gathering crowd. From the sound of things there was a lot of “you don’t know who I am”…”you are going to regret this”…comments about the officers mother..etc being yelled and screamed. After giving the man two warnings that he was being disorderly, the officer had enough and arrests the man for disorderly conduct.

The Professor: Without rehashing what I just wrote, and attempting to remain as impartial as a cop who has faced similar situations can be; the professor claims that the officer was rude, confrontational and refused to provide his name and badge number. He also claims that the officer arrested him after intentionally luring him out onto the porch of his home because the officer was irritated over his exercising his right to complain.

The President: A friend of the professor… states at a press conference “I do not have all the facts” and “the police acted stupidly” in the same breath. We all know where things went from there.

Because I don’t want to say anything here that could reflect badly on me or my department when seen through the lenses of people who like to find fault with any police activity I am going to cut this short. Let me sum up:

In my opinion many things could have been done, if not “better” perhaps differently. First and foremost, could the professor have acted differently? Could he have looked at the situation as a police officer responding to ascertain the security of his home and his own personal well being? Versus immediately looking at the officers race and jumping to an unjustified conclusion? Absolutely.

Did the officer “have to arrest” the professor? Could the Sgt.have used some discretion and just left? Sure he “could have”. Did he “have to walk away”? Was the arrest unlawful? I would have to say no.

We officers have to make many decisions and 0ftentimes make them under stress and time constraints. While I may often think “man I could have done that better” the real bar I set for myself  is “was what I did legal and within policy”? Ultimately, probable cause trumps officer discretion. I don’t think it’s fair to judge Sgt. Crowley on discretionary matters, what he should be judged on is the legality of his actions, and from what I see he had PC to support his charge. The dropping of charges in cases like this often has less to do with the propriety of the arrest as it does with political expediency.

And last but not least. While the president is free to say what he wants, I would hope that the leader of the free world would wait for all the details before making inflammatory remarks.



5 thoughts on “the “skip” gates fiasco”

  1. I really love your post because it puts everything into perspective. I agree with everything you mentioned. I vehemently disagree with how the PROFESSOR handled the situation. He was wrong for bringing the baggage of the race card. It just makes everything nasty. But he will cry race, he lectures about it everyday. He needs to change his perspective on life.

    Obama on this situation was stupid to use his own words. His duty is never to comment on local issues. Although he can, he should comment on issues after receiving all the facts. After stating he was not informed, he should have been diplomatic and play it safe. He added oil to the fire.

  2. Flat out, the Professor was wrong. Period. End Stop. As “a Black Man in America” and as an intellectual on the topic, he SHOULD have realized that when a police officer tells you that he is responding to a possible burglary in progress call, you cooperate – especially if there is really nothing wrong. And that goes for everyone regardless of race, creed, color, or religious preference.

    I get really irritated when I read/hear about anyone, but especially ‘smart people’, who seem to forget that police officers are authority figures in our society. As Americans, we tend to confuse ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ with ‘No one can tell me what to do.’ Creating and maintaining the quality of life we are lucky enough to have requires someone who has to ‘keep the peace.’

    As an educated man on how being treated as an ‘other’ can make it easy to be treated badly, it’s a shame that he couldn’t rise above the ‘other’ mentality himself.

  3. All I can say is I am thoroughly impressed at the professionalism of SGT Crowley. Note how everyone just assumes that having personal invective thrown at one in the performance of one’s duties is par for the course. Anyone less than a total professional would have administered a world class ass-whuppin’ to the good professor…even though that only would’ve played into his race-baiting, victimhood minstrel show.

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