Despite all charges being dropped in the case, people are still talking about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, so we thought it might be interesting to share some insight we received from a veteran cop on the matter.
After Barack Obama used the word "stupid" in reference to the arresting officer last night in his press conference, we heard from a police officer acquaintance of ours. He requested that his identity be withheld so that he could speak candidly, a request we're more than happy to honor. Anyway, here's what he wrote to us in an email:
I've been on calls where the exact same sort of thing happened. I would get dispatched to some call where the witness got all of their facts screwed up and the subject is pissed. I have generally been able to calm that person down with an appeal to their sense of reason. Sometimes I can't and still don't make an arrest because it just doesn't make sense to lock someone up just for being an asshole. However, there is a reason that they have Disorderly Conduct on the books. It's generally a problem solver when you can't figure out any other way to resolve the situation.
Reading the Gates affidavit, I would say that the cop really didn't do enough to calm him down. However, if everything that's written is true then the cop was within the letter of the law. I have considered the possibility that the cop either lied or exaggerated. Unfortunately, I've seen that happen before too.
I can only give you my word when I tell you that I have never based my decision to arrest someone based on race. However, I've been accused of racism a number of times, been falsely accused of calling someone a n——r in court and investigated claims of racism against officers that have turned out to be proven false. I've also met a few complete asshole bigoted cops. On this Gates thing, I honestly can't tell you which one we have here. Bigot? Overzealous rookie? Out of control subject? No idea.
I'm pretty sure I would have let him go, but that's because I'm too impressed by scholars for my own good.
So there you go. Personally, we think the biggest asshole in all of this is probably the lady who called the cops in the first place, but that's just our opinion.