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.