The white police sergeant accused of racial profiling after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.
Gates accused the 11-year department veteran Sgt. James Crowley of being an unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian after Crowley arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct last week.
Crowley confronted Gates in his home after a woman passing by summoned police for a possible burglary. The sergeant said he arrested Gates after the scholar repeatedly accused him of racism and made derogatory remarks about his mother, allegations the professor challenges
Gates has labeled Crowley a "rogue cop," demanded an apology and said he may sue the police department.
Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas, in his first public comments on the arrest, said Thursday that Crowley was a decorated officer who followed procedure. The department is putting together an independent panel to review the arrest, but Haas said he did not think the whole story had been told.
"Sgt. Crowley is a stellar member of this department. I rely on his judgment every day. ... I don't consider him a rogue cop in any way," Haas said. "I think he basically did the best in the situation that was presented to him."
Haas said Crowley's actions were in no way motivated by racism.
On Wednesday, President Obama elevated the dispute, when he said Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" during the encounter. [...]
The police sergeant whom President Obama accused of acting "stupidly" in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor offered his own account of the incident on Thursday, adding a new dimension to a drama that has transfixed the nation.
The arrest of the professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., was dominating talk shows and dinner conversations even before Mr. Obama discussed it on Wednesday at his news conference. But the president's comments seemed to further polarize the national debate over whether the sergeant, James Crowley, who is white, was right to arrest Professor Gates for disorderly conduct while investigating a possible break-in at the professor's home in Cambridge, Mass.[...]