Police Debate Obama Stance On Gates Case


To some police officers, President Obama was merely speaking the truth about how one officer behaved in a difficult situation. To others, he committed the unpardonable sin of sticking his nose where it does not belong, says the Los Angeles Times. When Obama accused Cambridge, Ma., police of acting “stupidly” when arresting his friend, Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., he reignited smoldering feelings in departments across the U.S. about race, police practices, and citizen obligations.“He really hurt the police terribly,” said Joseph McNamara, former San Jose, Ca., police chief and now a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “What bothers me is the tremendous stature that President Obama has with the minority community.” Obama’s comment, he said, will lead to “a very unfortunate and tremendous setback for police efforts that have been impressive over the 50 years since I became a policeman.” To Atlanta officer Antonio Matos, who is black, even if Gates had berated Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley, “that should have been the end of it. In our profession we’re supposed to have thick skin. You can’t take things personally.”

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