Friday, July 24, 2009

This is turning into a series...

Your neighbor calls the po-po to report someone has broken into your house. The po-po arrive to find the door open and you standing there. The po-po request some proof that this is indeed your domicile and you are not about to make off with the television. Do you:
  1. Smile and say "Sure, officer. See, this is where I live. Thank you for your concern. You may go now."
  2. Tell the officer you don't want to say anything without your lawyer present, and politely ask him to get off your lawn.
  3. Launch into a spittle-spraying tirade about "You're only doing this because I'm a black man!" (Bonus crazy points, BTW, if you are neither black, nor a man. I may try this sometime.)
While the second is certainly your right, and should probably be trotted out every now and then at random just to keep Johnny Law on his toes, the first will most often lead to a speedy resolution. You see, when I am interacting with a police officer, we both have wants and needs. I want him to not be there so that I can go about my business. He wants to resolve the situation in a manner that involves as little paperwork as possible. I am all about exploring a mutually-beneficial solution that sees him going away and not having to fill out much paperwork.

As James E. Griffin said in comments yesterday:
For the folks that haven't been there, when a cop has to respond to a call, he/she/it looks at the situation as a problem to be resolved. Given the powers we grant to cops, I want said cop to view me as the most reasonable person in the area. And the most likely to be an upstanding citizen. I'll do whatever I can.
So, while it's important to preserve the second option as our inalienable right, many times the first option just makes a lot more tactical sense.

Using the last of the three options just makes you look like a jackass.


JD said...

Key point, he is a Harvard Prof/liberal so he WANTS to look like a Jackass. . . .

Bob said...

Chris Rock even did a mock public service announcement titled "How Not To Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police," in which being polite is stressed as a technique to be used by a black man stopped by police. Sadly, too many black men looked on this as a comedy routine and not deadly serious advice.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Bonus: 0bama made himself look like a jackass over this, too.

And all he had to do was say, "Let's wait until the evidence is in before we start casting aspersions one way or the other."

Which would have been presidential. Even -- dare I say -- Bush-like.

Bram said...

If, on the other hand, you can use a bad experience with the police to launch a lucrative book and lecture tour - choose option 3. (And you are of low enough moral character to profit from the career destruction of a police officer.)

Bram said...

Judging from the rumors swirling around his dismissed Secret Service agent, Obama is easily the most racist President since Wilson.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right but then the Cop make himself look like an even bigger Jackass by arresting him after he has presented proof that he lives there.There was no basis for the arrest if their had been the charges would not have been dropped.

Anonymous said...

You all are ALMOST there.

Both the Hahvahd prof/lib & Obeyme ARE ALREADY jackasses. They're just showing their true colors from underneath the facade.

B Woodman

Tam said...

"You are absolutely right but then the Cop make himself look like an even bigger Jackass by arresting him after he has presented proof that he lives there."

He wasn't arrested for B&E, he was arrested for whatever they call "Disorderly Conduct" in Massachusetts.

"There was no basis for the arrest if their[sic] had been the charges would not have been dropped."

The charges were dropped because he was a big shot upper class twit with a Harvard lawyer, not because he hadn't engaged in disorderly conduct.

Frank W. James said...

Anon: I would suggest you go read the arrest report at various locations on Al Gore's web; i.e. The Smoking Gun or Second City Cop as both have it up, before you call the cop a 'jackass'. He was doing his job and in my opinion he did it quite professionally as well. Plenty of witnesses both civilian and police to verify the report.

This guy and the President both were "...acting stupidly..."

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Jay G said...

Yeah, I mentioned yesterday my feelings towards President Hopeychangey's comments...

Anonymous said...

1. Gates did nothing wrong. Disorderly Conduct is not using your First Amendment rights, especially under Massachusetts's ancient statute. Gates can ask the cop for his name and badge number and call him a racist prick all day long.

2. It was perfectly legal for Gates to be an a-hole. Gates had no duty to be respectful of authority and can call the cop racist or any other insult. The cop has the duty to respect Gates' civil rights, which the officer did not by falsely arresting Gates.

3. People are confusing the law with manners. Certainly most people in these here parts of the Errornet have been raised properly and would not yelled at the cops, however being ill-mannered does not equate to a criminal act (unless you are in Carmel or Meridian Hills).

4. Gates was not prosecuted because there was no crime. Having Ogletree as your attorney can only help (and made me chuckle) but even the overworked 26 year old Public Defender in Marion County Superior 9 would make short work of that arrest.

5. I find it unbelievable that the President of the United States, who is an attorney, would pre-judge a case, especially a state misdemeanor. Politically and legally I found his comments moronic and ill-advised.

6. The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge police will settle the civil lawsuit very quickly.

Shootin' Buddy

NattyBumpo said...

When I used to work in the PRC (People's Republic of Cambridge) the city law-enforcement forces were ridiculously inept. This was over 12 years ago, so there is hope they have been better trained. But it started at the top and ran down through the rank and file. I will give them that they have a tough beat to manage-what with all those tough kids at Harvard and MIT to watch. I have talked with people who were ticketed for smoking in public.

That said, I will give the officer the benefit of the doubt on this, in that the people that I have met with the least amount of common sense work as professors at the two aforementioned institutes of higher learning. Egotists with too much income and no connection to the real world.

the pawnbroker said...

popo to propro: "you're a mouthy, disrespectful, we're arresting you and giving you a soapbox for your foamy-mouth tirade"

bobo to popo: "you're stupid"

popo to bobo: "uh-uh, you're stupid"

mofo to propro: "you personify what's wrong with academia...and yeah, you're an a-hole"

mofo to popo: "way to not escalate, geniuses"

mofo to bobo: "you're the most arrogant, smug, pretentious, race-baiting, headline-grabbing, commie-hugging excuse for a chief executive ever to darken the doorway of the oval office"

yes, i can be a mofo when provoked.


Anonymous said...

I read the report nothing in it changes my opinion about the arrest.
Shootin Buddy made the points better than I could.Nothing was gained by the arrest the officer should have just got in his car and left ounce verification had been made.Up to the arrest I feel the officer handled the situation correctly.By arresting him he made an ass of himself.The only crime was contempt of cop and pissing him off.

Kevin said...

Cops deserve as much respect as anyone else, but as far as I'm aware, behaving like a jackass (as Gates almost certainly did) is not a crime. And I don't buy into the whole "he got what he deserved for mouthing off to a cop" thing either. My expectation is for officers to behave professionally and not to hook up citizens who don't show the proper amount of deference.

dave said...


Over at Reason, they have a slightly different take:

Notably, Crowley invited Gates to follow him, thereby setting him up for a disorderly conduct charge. "I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and that if he had any other questions regarding the matter I would speak with him outside the residence," Crowley writes. He claims "my reason for wanting to leave the residence was that Gates was yelling very loud and the acoustics of the kitchen and foyer were making it difficult for me to transmit pertinent information to ECC or other responding units." But instead of simply leaving, Crowley lured Gates outside, the better to create a public spectacle and "alarm" passers-by. The subtext of Crowley's report is that he was angered and embarrassed by Gates' "outburst" and therefore sought to create a pretext for arresting him.

What really happened? Sounds to me like a dick-size war between a couple of giant dicks.

Anonymous said...

Tam is dead right talking about tactics. It also goes to Cirillo's checklist for surviving a gunfight, and the old story about the aged martial arts master wanting to sit on his front porch and watch his grand children, and great-grand children play.

It has to do with being plugged in to your environment, and why it's in your best interest to make your community a better place. By definition, making your community a better place automatically makes it a less desirable place for malefactors to haunt.

Basically, we're talking about which tactics support that strategy. In my view, when you're in the midst of a field investigation, it's better tactics to be the most reasonable of persons. You don't say that they don't know who they're messin' with, they find out afterward to their dismay "Who You Are."

And the words that NEVER come out of your mouth are: "Do you know who I am?" The place to make sure your rights are respected is after the officers have finished the field investigation. You and your attorney, and your friends in the community assert your rights afterward. The person being a jerk during the field investigation is the one having problems at this stage.

The annals of law enforcement and emergency medicine are replete with tales of "the usual suspects." As John Wayne once said in "The Sands of Iwo Jima," "Life is tough. Life is tougher when you're stupid."

The objective - and here's where I have had both Libertarians and other second amendment activists disagree with me - is to be known as one of the "pillars of the community." Should you be able to live life with doing all this extra effort? Yes, but men are not angels. In the end, I'm better off plugged into my environment.

Matt G said...

Everybody re-read Shootin' Buddy's comments, above.

He is spot-on, in every point.

In Texas, case law has made clear that an officer cannot be offended by offensive language; cops are held to a higher standard. Thus, it matters not how much the guy throws insult and profanity at you in his own home.

If the officer had detained the man to identify him, that's fine. By his own admission, he met the description of the persons seen breaking into the house.

The charges were an over-reach, which is sad, because the cop was absolutely on solid ground until he went there.

David said...

A couple decades ago a friend and I stopped by my parent's house to do some laundry before returning to college after our spring break in the mountains. I didn't have my house key with me, but knew which window was easy to jimmie.

We had a load of laundry in the wash and were carrying a box of stuff out of my room out to our car when I walked out the front door and found myself face to face with the business end of a Police service revolver.

Unfortunately the neighbor who had called the police had only been living there for a few weeks and didn't know me. The neighbors who did all know me were not home.

My parents were not reachable by phone, but the cops were kind of swayed over to my way of thinking by all the pictures of me and my sisters hanging all over the house and my drivers license which had that address on it.

But that didn't stop them from cuffing us and putting us in the back of the patrol car. We were about to be hauled downtown when a neighbor who did know both of us, and one of the cops, showed up and vouched for us.

My friend and I stayed calm and respectful, and the cops remained professional throughout the whole situation.

There was some follow-up with my parents a couple days later. My mother was really pissed off about the cops arresting me. Dad thought it was hilarious that I got arrested for breaking into my own bedroom.

In the end, nothing came of it except a story to tell our kids, my friend and I had something to do while waiting for our laundry to finish, and my Dad fixed a few windows making it harder for me to get in when I came home for summer break a few months later.

The POTUS never got involved nor commented in any way. Which is good. I expect my President to be to busy defending the constitution to bother commenting about a local breaking and entering arrest. But that's just me.

Stuart_the_Viking said...

Quite frankly, other than the arrest for disorderly which was arguably not a great idea, it looks to me like the cop in this case handled this fairly sedately. Now admittedly I am a large scarry (white) Viking looking dude (complete with long hippie hair) but I really think if I was acting the way the prof was in a simular situation I probably would have gotten tazed... at least once. I don't expect that President Unicorn would have said anything about it though (me being so translucent white and all).

Stuart the Viking

Tam said...

Shootin' Buddy and Matt G are right.

However, I'd still rather have no charges at all than to have charges dropped, and there's no doubt that this outcome could have been achieved here.

However, I'm not as smart as a grandstanding Harvard prof, and the POTUS has never commented on any of my interactions with the Five-Oh, so what do I know?

Steve Skubinna said...

All this shows is that anyone choosing a law enforcement career in Post Racial America is a fucking idiot. This cop is going to get Joe The Plumber'ed. What he should have done as soon as he saw a person of different skin color was turn around and leave, then call for a departmental EEO team to respond.

Anonymous said...

What he should have done as soon as he saw a person of different skin color was turn around and leave, then call for a departmental EEO team to respond.
No what he should have done is as soon as he verified there was no crime and they were legitimate residents was to say "have a nice day" and leave.
But I agree with everyone on this point our PITA POTUS should have kept his nose out of it.

Drang said...

According to Gateway Pundit, the Cambridge PD and some doctors are demanding apologies from The Bamster: Breaking: Cambridge Police Unit Demands Apology From Obama (Video)...Update: Doctors Want An Apology Too!

Drang said...

BTW, that Gateway Pundit article including a link to this item: Black officer at scholar's home supports arrest

Anonymous said...

Black officer at scholar's home supports arrest
Of course he does this is not a black vs white issue it is a LEO vs Civilian issue despite what Gates and Obama think.


Unknown said...

No, it was LEO v. Racist Asshole.

Someone in the area needs to make an Open Records Request for the video of the encounter. I PROMISE you that someone was rolling tape, and while there's probably not much to see, I'll bet that there's audio gold in that encounter.

Buffboy said...

I suggest you all read the law as pertains to disorderly conduct. I doubt yours is much different from my state's law. When he followed the officer out of his house, to the street, screaming threats and obscenities at the officer to the gathering crowd, that became Disorderly Conduct by definition of law. I would have cuffed and stuffed him too. It is my opinion that the prosecutor that dismissed the charges needs to grow a pair or be replaced.

mts1 said...

I live in a city where *white* people have filed suits against police pulling guns on them in their own yard, and when I had to loudly break in my back door last year, want to know how I handled it? Lookie:

We whities don't have a "don't arrest me" force field like Gates wants you to think. Heck, since we don't have a Jackson or Sharpton to yell for us, it's even less of a motivation to front the cops when they're over, and trying to get a bearing on what is going on.

Unknown said...

Hey, Buffboy, you got text of the MA law invoked here before you? Because when I look up the Massachucetts General Law, the closest that I can find to Disorderly Conduct caused by cussing the cops in public might be Blasphemy. Me, I wouldn't last 5 minutes in MA.

Perhaps this was a Cambridge municpal ordinance that was being invoked.

My question: did the officer's PC Affidavit include the names of the persons offended by the conduct that Gates was displaying?

Looking at your own state's definition of Disorderly Conduct, I would have to ask how you would define Unreasonable Noise, without another reasonable person (not you) to consider whether the noise he was making was reasonable, given the circumstances. That noise, in your state, must be so substantial that it "intentionally causes serious public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to any other person, or creates a risk." Serious annoyance or alarm? Really?

As another cop who sometimes admittedly takes pleasure in the perquisite that my job affords me in getting to put assholes in jail, I do have to question whether you're administering the law correctly.

But let's wait until we see the video. Maybe that will shed some light on things. Because I must admit that I wasn't there. Maybe we're missing something.

Noton Yalife said...

1) Yes, it should not be a crime to insult a police officer.

2) Yes, it should not be a crime to yell at a police officer in your own home.

3) But, yelling at neighbors, passers-by, or anyone else for that matter from your front porch can and will get you arrested if you won't stop. This is a textbook definition of disturbing the peace. The arrest was for this reason. That the person he was yelling at was a police officer does not matter. It is illegal to yell unceasingly at anyone in this manner.

4) That he was lured is BS! The officer said he was leaving and if Gates had any questions he would speak to him on the porch. Gates at this point could very easily have gone to the door and closed it and gone about his day. There was absolutely no need for Gates continue the engagement: The officer was walking away and gave Gates every opportunity to do so as well.

Noton Yalife said...

From The Massachusetts Criminal Defense Resource Page Somewhat self-referential, but...

MGL CHAPTER 272. Mass General Laws, excerpt.

Section 53. Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

The website further interprets:
A disorderly person is defined as one who:

with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm...[snip]

Anonymous said...

The parenthetical to choice 3. of Tam's list = win. Does a loud snort of amusement qualify as LOLing?

Buffboy said...

Matt, I'm not an expert on MA law(but I did find the law, G.L.c. 272 Sec. 53) wow, that is old. Maybe I was a little harsh with that prosecutor.

Public can mean a lot of things, here, I can be the public as well as any other person(that's not true in MA). Like Crowley, I would make the arrest for no other reason than it documents the incident. It can be a simple cite and release(ticket) or you can go to jail until heard by a magistrate. I'd prefer that person is reasonable and will settle down so I need to do neither. Just leaving the scene is not an option as I can't foresee the person's future actions while highly agitated. Just by showing up, I'm responsible in any event for what happens after so I'd better be able to say that the situation seemed calm when I left. It doesn't sound like Gates was giving many options to Crowley.

I've read the police report, but not the PC affidavit (if you know where it is available send me a link). There are none of his fellow officers saying that the report wasn't accurate. There are none of the neighbors saying it wasn't accurate. There would be plenty of fur flying if it wasn't, of that you can bet. Going from that report, it would be a good arrest in this state. If a prosecutor took it to court in my state, he would likely win(there are no sure things in court, ever!).

Crowley was damned if he did, damned if he didn't, Gates put him in an untenable spot on the street in front of numerous witnesses. At least with the arrest, the report becomes public knowledge and it wasn't only Gates' side of the story in the paper.

Video/audio will probably hit the public domain at some point, if for no other reason than someone in the press will demand the police recordings. I have doubts that it will paint a flattering picture of Gates.

Borepatch said...

I'm late to this party (and thanks for the link, Tam), but there are two points I'd like to make - I'm one of the poor lost souls living in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, and there's quite a buzz here:

1. I don't know what's up with Reason lately, but they look like they're 40 IQ points low these days. Sgt. Crowley left the good Professor's house because nobody could hear his radio transmissions. Well, they could hear the transmissions, but all they heard on the transmissions was the Professor screaming his head off. Crowley didn't "lure" Dr. Dick to the outside - he was trying to radio a report in. Note: the transmissions were all recorded, but the Mayor is blocking their release.

2. While IANAL, Masked Menace is exactly correct. Interfering with a police officer trying to radio in a report to the station because you're screaming too loud is, well, disorderly. In your house is one thing: out in the 'hood is another. I find the fact that the mayor (a friend of the Professor) is blocking the FOIA release is prima facie evidence of actual, you know, disorderly conduct.

Your mileage may vary, and there are certainly lots of examples of police abuse. But this sure doesn't look like one to me.

Tam said...

One other main area of Global Fail by Prof. Gates is in forgetting the maxim: "The police are not interested in law & order; they're interested in peace & quiet."

Matt G said...

"Video/audio will probably hit the public domain at some point, if for no other reason than someone in the press will demand the police recordings. I have doubts that it will paint a flattering picture of Gates."

We certainly agree there. :)

Zdogk9 said...

I'm coming late also.
You're forcing your own front door. A neighbor who does nor know you personally and does not recognize you calls the police. They show up and ask you to identify yourself, you do. To this point I could be writing about an incident I was involved in.
From where I sit, the correct words from me at this point would be, "Thanks for the prompt response, glad to see you're looking after the neighborhood."

The professor instead chose to go the professional victim route. He's a jackass.

Anonymous said...

Nasty is coming into your home.

If Crowley had observed Gates breaking and entering it would be a crime. What we have here is a drive by neighbor who profiled Gates and filed a complaint against him. Gates of course had no idea what had happened and was mad as hell. It was Crowley however who took it to the next level when he entered Gates' house uninvited. I think every house owner in america should now be afraid a cop driving by can conduct a warrantless search without giving his name and badge number.

Tam said...

Anon. 11:48,

I'm going to take a wild guess, and postulate that you are neither a lawyer, nor the po-po. Am I right?

Anonymous said...

Tam said what?

Actually I made that up to illustrate something. It doesn't matter what you think about it logically. It doesn't matter if I'm tinker tailor soldier spy lawyer cop ... or nobody. Its viral in nature, much like the pig flu. It spreads exponentially. Crowley set it in motion. Odd name I wonder if he's related to Aleister.


Tam said...

"Crowley set it in motion."

Like fun, he did.

Johnny Law responds to a 911 call reporting a burglary in progress at your crib.

He rolls up and finds the front door open.

He's supposed to do what? Wait on the front porch until the m-f-'in special courier shows up with a warrant? Better check on that premise.

He goes into your house. He sees someone standing there. He asks for some ID. They initially refuse, saying "I live here." He's supposed to say "Oh, okay," and turn around and leave? Premise check #2.

In addition, you stated "What we have here is a drive by neighbor who profiled Gates and filed a complaint against him."
Nope. Gates was inside, pulling on the door. The neighbor saw the cabbie outside, pushing on the door with his shoulder. Strange man. Forcing door open. Do you be a good neighbor or don't get involved?

I'm tempted to go bust into Gates' house in broad daylight tomorrow, because you'd better cool believe that none of his neighbors is going to be dumb enough to call the cops again. Get me some nice Harvard prof swag...

Anonymous said...

Some of yall need to do a little research about the law before ya go on about "warrantless searches" and the like..there ARE times when the police have every authority to enter your residence.

Sgt. Crowley was responding to a complaint of burglary in progress. The "the neighbor was profiling" thing is CRAP. I know my immediate neighbors to my left/right/and across the street. If I saw the guy 3-4 (maybe even 2) doors down and a buddy kicking in his door I wouldnt know what the F was up either. And what are we going to do now, investigate witnesses to see if they are "profiling" when they call the police? Are the colors of hats, shirts and cars OK but mentioning skin color is not?? WTF??

After the witness informed the Sgt. of her observations, Crowley saw a black man inside the home. No reasonable person would deny that at that moment, Sgt. Crowley had more than the sufficient amount of “reasonable suspicion,” as we say in the trade, required to investigate and even detain the man for the length of time necessary to determine if he was in fact a burglar. And yes, Sgt. Crowley was fully justified in making a warrantless entry into the home if necessary. We dont sit around and wait for a judge when someone says they saw a man breaking into your house and roll up to find that the door had indeed been forced a neighborhood that was the recent area of multiple burgs to boot!

Could the Sgt have walked away? Sure..did he HAVE TO? I dont believe so. Yeah, you can mouth off in your house all you want...yes DisCon cant be just for pissing a cop off (a cop cant be the "offended" party in most DC statutes)and you can mouth off outside if its just you and the cop. But most DC statutes state that when you are making a scene in front of non LE witnesses outside the home you can be subject to arrest for being disorderly. Dropping of charges later has little to do with the merits of the charge here was for political expediency.

I think a case for obstructing IN the house could have flown...what did Gates think was going on? That the good Sgt. just decided to walk around the neighborhood looking for a black man in a house to hassle?

jackscrow said...

The key moment was when Gates continued yelling at the LEO once he was out of the house (even if still on the porch).

If I stand on my porch and yell, my neighbors will see to it that I get a ride downtown.

Practically every LEO's reaction is going to be the same. They're going to ask you twice, even three times to stop yelling, and then the cuffs come out. And then you go to jail.

Is this right? Who knows. But it's reality. Doesn't matter if you're black, white, green, purple or a DQ Swirl-Cone with .

One more thang: According to the 0-Man, this is supposed to be a "teaching moment" about racism.

So why is it that he invited Crowley over for, of all things, a beer? To talk about racism?

Why not a White House dinner? Why not tea? 'cause everbuddy knows the working class can't be trusted to behave at a proper White House din-din. Prolly never seen a salad fork before.

This from the man who gave the Queen an I-pod with his own speeches on it. Sheesh.

Is it because, you know, Crowley is an Irish name, and hey, you know about those Irish and their alcohol?! Give 'em a little likker and everythang'll be ok. Heck, just 'cause he's Irish don't mean he ain't got sum Injun in him.

What The 0-Man did here is the equivalent of a white President inviting a person of color to the White House to share some watermelon, fried chicken, and listen to some drivin' while black stories. Jolly time.

Unbelievably oblivious.

Proving the 0-Man's point though, is that Gates does have better taste in beer, preferring Red Stripe or Becks over Crowley's Blue Moon.

Uh, weak wheat beer made by Coors. Almost as bad as ethnic profiling by the 0-Man.