- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

LONG BEACH, Calif. | Cambridge, Mass., Police Sgt. James Crowley received a standing ovation from thousands of police officers Monday as he opened a five-day Fraternal Order of Police convention with brief remarks.

Sgt. Crowley, who is white, sparked a national debate on race relations and policing when he arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for disorderly conduct at Mr. Gates’ home in Cambridge. Mr. Gates is black.

More than 3,000 police officers cheered Sgt. Crowley when he spoke at the Long Beach Convention Center. Dozens left their seats to take photographs of him as he stood on the podium.

“The past month has been very difficult for my family, my friends and my colleagues back in Cambridge, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it wouldn’t be as easy for me to handle this without the support from the Fraternal Order of Police … and the support that the men and women who do this job have given me,” he said. “Thank you very much.”

Sgt. Crowley declined to comment further after leaving the stage.

Sgt. Crowley arrested Mr. Gates on July 16. The officer was the first to respond to the home that the renowned black scholar rents from Harvard University, after a woman reported seeing two men trying to force open the front door. Mr. Gates said he had to shove the door open because it was jammed.

He was charged with disorderly conduct after, police said, he yelled at Sgt. Crowley, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after Sgt. Crowley demanded that Mr. Gates show him identification. The charge was later dropped, but Mr. Gates demanded an apology and called the incident racial profiling.

Sgt. Crowley has said he followed protocol and responded to Mr. Gates’ “tumultuous behavior” appropriately.

President Obama further inflamed the debate when he said at a nationally televised news conference that Sgt. Crowley had “acted stupidly.” Mr. Obama later invited Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley to the White House for a beer to bring all three men together.

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