July 23rd, 2009
05:02 PM ET

Cambridge police sergeant defends his actions

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/23/officer.gates.arrest/art.jim.crowley.wcvb.jpg" caption="Sgt. Jim Crowley said he has nothing to apologize for in regards to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr."]


Sgt. James Crowley, the police officer who arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home, spoke out today on local talk radio, The Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. Here's some of what he had to say:

The reason I asked the professor to come outside was not, as some would suggest, because I knew I couldn’t arrest him in his house. I didn’t know who he was. I was by myself. I was the only police officer standing there and I got a report that were people breaking into a house. That was for my safety, because first and foremost, I have to go home at night. I have three beautiful children and a wife who depend on me. So I had no other motive other than to ensure my safety.  This  gentleman could either have been one of the people breaking in or he could've been the homeowner that was unaware that there were people his house unauthorized. I just didn’t know.

… That apology will ever come from me as Jim Crowley; it won’t come from me as sergeant of the Cambridge Police Department. Whatever anybody else chooses to do in the name of the city of Cambridge or the Cambridge Police Department is beyond my control. I know what I did was right. I have nothing to apologize for…

 …The second question is, "is there anybody in the home with you?" And again, my reasoning is not to get into his personal business, but he may not know that there are people broke into his house. I wanted know, is there anybody else here, are you here by yourself? And again, outward appearances, when I first laid eyes on the professor, to me, in my mind, I’m thinking, he doesn’t look like somebody who would break into a house. I wasn’t certain.  But his responses to my routine inquiry about, "could you step outside and talk to me?" My inquiry about, "is there anybody else in the residence?" The way – not just what he said to me, but the tone in which he said – just seemed very peculiar. Even more so now they know how educated he is.

Listen to the full interview here.

Read more about this story on CNN.

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Denise Mendez, Houston, Texas

    In this incident I can not see how the officer used racial profilling, just can not!!! There still is race discrimination in this country, however, not in this incident!!!

    I am tired of hearing and seeing how much the race card is used to get out of a situation. I know I'm not the only person of my race that feels this way. I'm sure there are other races that are not black or white have people who are tired of hearing and seeing the race card being used. I feel the race card is severaly abused by ,what I hear and see , the black people.

    Whenever ANYONE uses the "race card" they should be challenged to prove the allegations of discrimination, severaly punished when the allegation is fraudulent. No one should give into the allegations because of fear of being labeled as a racist. Giving into allegations without the allegations being proven to be true is practiced too much in this country and this is what causes more race tention. This practice causes the race that was accussed of race discrimination to hate the other race.

    The Civil Rights movement was not to help race tention it was to allow every citizen to be treated as equals. The officer in this icident did his job and he SHOULD NOT APPOLIGIZE !!!

    July 23, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  2. smm

    If I were breaking into my home and the police had responded to a call, I would be THANKFUL that they would ask for my identification information. Crowley shouldn't have to apologize to Gates over this. Gates is the one who should be apologizing. After all, it's because of him that this is all over the news. If he had acted in a civil manner instead of being outraged, he would have never been arrested. Also, Obama had no right indicating the officer acted stupidly. I believe he indicated he didn't know the full story and therefore, he should have said no comment on the issue.

    July 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
  3. Brian

    Race, Race, Race...what a joke..this is about someone not complying with a law enforcement officer....i don't care what your race or age is you must comply with cops commands...Like it or not thats our society.

    I know if I talked to a cop like that were I live I would go to jail too...
    Sounds to me that Mr. Gates is A racist ...Like the police singled him out and just happened to show up to harrass him..Give me a break...

    July 23, 2009 at 8:42 pm |
  4. Denise

    Brent. Many criminals run from the crime scene and sit on a porch of someones home as if they are the resident of the home to ellude the police. Many criminals brake into a home, hold the occupants hostage and send out a partner in crime to speak to an officer at the door or send one of the hostages. The officer did his job well and is gathering information needed to close the case. You can't say the officer wasn't smart.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  5. Marianne from Phila

    The police are not the gentlemen they once were. This discussion is stupid. The news is owned by wall street types who now restrict fee press. Arresting a man in their own home is never right! The professors did not flash a gun or knife. Hand cuffs is excessive in this case regaurdless of what was said by either party. Having watched todays cops deal with situations in hospital ER's in Phila, I'd use the word BRUTAL to describe them.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  6. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    @Annie Kate, You are absolutely right!

    Why is it that everyone automatically believes the black participant in these types of altercations? They lie just like anybody else.

    A neighbor called the police, they didn't come on their own.

    It was irresponsible for Obama to be giving any opinion on this case when, as he admitted, he did not know the facts of the case and he was biased by being a friend of Gates.

    CNN and Soledad O'Brien were irresponsible for giving Gates a platfrom without having an opposing view since this is an ongoing case.

    I always believed that Obama was lying during the campaign when he said that he "transcended race." Not only does he not transcend race, he obviously sees things through a racial bias.

    This statement is a perfect example of what he really believes and how he will govern in the future. I hope this will wake the American people up about this puppet president.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  7. Denise

    Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson DO NOT, I repeat–DO NOT speak for all black people. They do not speak for me. I am black, I did not vote for President Obama, I am a republican, but I am not STUPID. Racism does still exisit in America, so those of you who get tired of black people making race an issue...just how do you all expect us to get over being black??? I mean it was just the 50's and 60's where black people were still under massive blatant descrimination just because of our race. I mean my grandmother had to drink from a "colored" fountian...it was not that long ago The majority of the leadership in government, education, and private corporations are people who grew up in an era where black people were not treated the same as white people. Do you all really expect the effects of a system of slavery and opression that went on for HUNDREDS of years to go away after 50 or 60 years??

    The difference now is that we have a right by law to fight against racism...that does not mean it does not exsist. I do believe that with God, education, hard work, and perseverance anyone no matter their color now has the chance to attain the "American Dream", and for that I am greatful to my ancestors for fighting for that for me.

    Regarding Dr. Gates,I do believe his race (and the arresting officer's race) played a role in how he was treated and how he reacted. We just have not had a very good history with white police officers...no matter where in the country. Most black people have had bad experiences with police. We have been severely sterotyped which causes police to draw certain conclusions from the start. After years and years of mistreatment you can't really blame us for being frustrated. Dr. Gates should not have been arrested for expressing his frustration. This is probably not the first time that he has been in this kind of situation. It just gets old for us...we're just as tired of racism as white people. We would love for race not to be an issue...but that is just not our reality.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Ashley H, Canada

    Why was Gates even arrested? Like Ikailka said, he proved that he was in his own home. They were following protocol? Yah, because arresting someone AFTER they prove this is where they live is standard protocol.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  9. tracy

    I'm tired of hearing about "reverese discrimination." Nothing will ever be solved if people are never just held accountable for their actions in their specific situation. ("If it would have been a black cop..." and so on, is irrelevant). I don't know why it seems like its "us" against "them." So please stop using that "reverse discrimination" term, what makes it any different from "regular" discrimination?

    July 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  10. Denise

    Tony you are wrong!!! The officer did his job and who were STUPID are the professor, the mayor of Cambridge, and Obama. The professor was stupid because he had used his race, his professional backround, and shouting tone to intimidate the officer when all he had to do is cooperate and if later he thought his rights were violated he could have brought this issue up with the proper authorities in a civil manner. The Mayor of Cambridge is STUPID because she used her race, racial preferrance and abused her authority to make the decission to drop the charges and appoligize to Gates which if Gates was a white man she most likely would have done nothing. Obama is STUPID because first he could have decline the question or stated the incident is being dealt with by Cambridge authorities and could have kept himself out of this incident. But since Obama is half or part African American and his skin color is not white he showed his racial preferrance by being STUPID and answering the question the way he did!!!! Everytime a citizen uses the 'Race Card" the citizen should be challenged and punished severaly when found he or she made a fraudulent accusation!!!!

    July 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  11. Larry

    There needs to be an apology from Obama to the Cambridge PD.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  12. lampe

    Look I am an AA women, who is 54 years old. I have never in my life considered not answering questions put to me by a Police Officer. There is no need for anyone White or Black to call each other names. Mr. Gates, being a College Professor, who teaches young people should have known better. Calling a Police Officer names, is not something I would want someone teaching my child. Would Mr gates want a White Officer to protect his home, if someone was really trying to break into his home, or worse yet if someone was hurting him. This is just STUPID. And Obama had no right commenting on this subject, without knowing all the facts.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  13. Rick

    I have lived in many countries, England,Singapore,Malaysia,Thailand, Denmark and Norway, and anyone of the police officers in these countries would arrest you for bad mouthing them whether you were white, black or green. It has nothing to do with colour, and certainly nothing to do with Obama, but everything to do with respecting an officer who was doing his job and responding to a call from a concerned citizen who was trying to help his neighbour. Did this Professor get his degree through 'affirmative action', because he does not seem that smart ?

    July 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  14. Kalani

    The officer did the right thing by following procedure for his safety as well as the safety of Mr. Gates. I think he showed a lot of maturity in saying he would apologize as a person although I don't think he needs to. The arrest for "disorderly conduct" was a bit overboard. However, people like Marie who are "tired of hearing black people talk about mistreatment" need to pay attention to the news and read more dilligently. The statistics don't lie. Blacks are more likely to be mistreated by officers in the U.S.A.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm |
  15. Ikaika

    You people should experience a belligerent, bullying police officer before you point fingers. In my 53 years in this life, I've been on the receiving end of this type of officer a couple of times, and let me tell you, their attitude is enough to anger anyone.

    Obama said, "The police department acted stupidly by ARRESTING
    A PERSON AFTER HE HAD PROVED THAT HE WAS THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE" – let's make sure we quote the whole statement. I agree wholeheartedly. I also think that the President, like any American citizen, is entitled to his beliefs and opinions. I didn't hear anything raging, he just calmly stated what he believed.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  16. Dana, Trenton, Michigan

    I believe that both men were wrong in this incident. Mr. Gates for his behavior. and Sgt Crowley for not just leaving the incident alone after the identification was made. He could have continued to let Mr. Gates berate him, I think the names should have rolled off of his back and been more professional, and to do his job "Protect and Served". He could have used a little more common sense and let him continued to make himself look bad. Sgt should not have arrested him...

    Mr. Gates being a professor should have not behaved in the manner he did. I can see him being a little tick off, but behaving in a outlash manner was unbecoming of Mr. Gates.

    I think that there should have been a mutual respect for both men, especially the Sgt, because he was in charge of the incident and the scene. I believe if the Sgt explained and told Mr Gates these are Officer Safety caution (OSC) and he needs to come outside for his safety, being a instructor he should been able to leave no matter what Mr. Gates was saying to him, if he had left he would not have to hear Mr. Gates Berate him.

    I believe the arrest should have not been made.. the Sgt is berated and talked about all the times, he should have used a little more restrain like they do in a Domestic Violence case and left since he was the victim of the verbal abuse, because Mr Gates became upset about he incident which he had the right in this case.

    This will continued in a lawsuit very soon... it will be about bias and him being illegally detained. How do you get arrested in your own home for being loud and cursing. " I thought a man home was is Castle." Its not about black or white its about "rights".

    July 23, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  17. sharkvador

    Every day the left agenda, media networks like yours, ambitiously attempts to decide what is best for us and how each selective piece of news you deem necessary or appropriate will be delivered to us in a manner that ensures personal gain and benefit for the extreme left movement. Including what you decide to post in your blogs.
    You are no doubt afraid to post any comments like mine in fear of exposing even more how ignorant the segment of the population you protect for your personal gain and agenda really are. You are afraid to post my comments below because they hits where it hurts! You ask where does it hurt? The TRUTH always hurts. Nonetheless one of you liberals will read it and be affected by it. Therefore I have done my duty as a warrior for justice! You know you will continue to read because if you don’t you are an idiot and if you do you are as well. In the end and there always is an end, you will be more exposed than ever before in America as the traders, and Communist you are!
    Here we go again and again where America has to walk on eggshells when dealing with anyone who is not white but especially black. Let me put it is this way for you.
    You are an IDIOT if:
    1. You think the scientific term, the Black Hole in space, is an inappropriate comment/phrase or combination of words and should not be used here on Earth.
    2. You believe that regardless the incident and unbiased the circumstances maybe, that a black persons personal interpretation of the circumstances, their subjective sensitivity levels along with their life experiences supersede reality and laws that normally apply to everyone else and is therefore entitled to custom treatment with an apology entitlement clause if expectations are not met to the standard of how the black person claiming victim interprets acceptable disposition and demeanor from those he accuses of racism.
    3. You think topic number 2 creates more jobs and cuts cost for taxpayers.
    4. You support and/or believe Acorn is the solution to topic number 2.
    5. You think OJ is innocent and Obama has a plan for number 3.
    6. You get angry about these topics and the right to freedom of speech.
    7. You think Obama will change number 1 and believe his plan for number 3.
    8. You disagree and can’t follow the numbers!

    July 23, 2009 at 7:44 pm |
  18. Deloris

    Now I understand why there is STILL SO MUCH RACISM in America, by looking at the blogs across the net.

    1st – IF one is in their own home. raising your voice at the police is NOT called disorderly conduct!
    2nd – While Dr. Gates was IN his house and was showing the policeman (standing on the porch) his ID.
    3rd – The cop KNEW then that this was Dr.Gates house as he saw his driver license and Harvard ID!!
    3rd – The cop KNEW what he was doing (skirting the LAW) that is WHY HE KEPT ASKING Dr. Gates to "COME OUT" on the PORCH!!!
    4th – The cop could NOT ARREST Dr. Gates IN THE HOUSE!!

    For the people that think this is much to do about NOTHING!!! That tells me you don't know (really know) any African-Americans. I was with a very prominent elected nationally known person that was stopped going into his own office building! I would be willing to say that there are MANY stories like this.

    The Pres. was asked a question about his friend! he can comment if he wants. ALSO REMEMBER THAT HE IS AN ATTORNEY!!!

    THE COP was SMART because he kept asking Dr. Gates to "COME OUT." But he was - NO IS -STUPID (I DON'T USE THAT TERM OFTEN) because he thought he could get a way with this crap. Obviously this is NOT the 1st time this cop has done this sort of thing!

    July 23, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  19. Tony

    The police officer is acting immature (stupid). He should have accepted that someone may be agitated about having to prove the right to be in their own home & let it go. NO NEED FOR ARREST! Stupid action!

    July 23, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  20. Cathy in NC

    A white cop is damned if they do and damed if they don't. If Mr Gates had called about a possible intruder that was black and Mr Crowley did nothing about it, he would be considered racist because he did noting for Mr. Gates because he would be a black victim. When will this ever end. Do we see white people crying criminal profiling when they are arrested or questioned by black police officers. Time to stop opressing your own race and maybe others will follow.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  21. Brent

    A smart police officer (PO) would know a burglar wouldn't come to the front door, open it and carry on a conversation, a real burglar would have stayed put or run out the back. So the officer should have known this and stated the obvious: I'm responding to a burglary reported at this address. Do you have an ID to prove you live here? If this situation was immediately presented to the professor, chances are the situation wouldn't have escalated. But if the right words aren't used, chances are both would end up defending their own territory, and this in fact happened; the professor defending his home property, the PO defending his right to investigate a possible crime.

    Lesson: Retrain your officers to accurately assess situations and how to form the necessary questions to potential perps to resolve the situation, with the least resistance.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  22. Mike in NYC

    Unfortunately, the black female mayor of Cambridge held true to racial solidarity and stabbed one of her own PO's in the back by apologizing to Gates.

    People of Cambridge, do the right thing and retire this incompetent next election season.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
1 2