Crowley And Dr. Gates: Police Can’t Have Blanket Powers

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[Comment: National News]

While race has dominated the discussion on the Professor Henry Louis Gates matter another factor which merits scrutiny is the level of discretion and latitude we grant individual police officers and the potential for easy abuse of that discretion.

Handcuffing and removing a citizen from his home because you don't like their attitude strikes me as overzealous and it is entirely too capricious a standard in a country where freedom of expression is sacrosanct.

Dr. Gates states that
Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department exaggerates the exchange between them. Whether that is or is not the case, we don't give up our freedom of expression just because the person we are addressing happens to be a police officer, especially so in the privacy of our home.

In life, often one person's statement of fact is another person's egregious insult. Elevating such encounters to an arresting offense is a misuse of the discretionary power we entrust to police.

I submit that we've gone too far in our granting of discretionary powers to police if perceived insults and affronts give police the latitude to use arrest powers in such situations.

It should be possible to have clearer guidelines and a higher threshold than a police officers opinion for an arresting offense. 

Please feel free to post your comments directly or submit them to for publication.

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”


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