- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

UPDATED:

The Cambridge (Mass.) Police Department on Monday released the 911 recording about a possible home break-in that led to the arrest of black Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and reignited a national debate about race relations in the United States.

In the initial call to police, Lucia Whalen says an concerned, elderly woman told her about two men trying to enter Mr. Gates’ house July 16.

“They kind of had to barge in,” said Ms. Whalen, who then watched the events unfold. “I’m not sure if these are two individuals who actually live there… . They were pushing the door in.”

When the dispatcher asked Ms. Whalen the race of the men, she said, “One looked kind of Hispanic.”

Sgt. James Crowley, a white officer in the department, arrested Mr. Gates while helping investigate the report, which states the men were black.

Mr. Gates showed his Harvard ID but was arrested for disorderly conduct after he and the officer exchanged words. The charges have been dropped, and the police department has cleared the officer.

The department also released tapes of the officers talking on their police radios during the incident.

Sgt. Crowley is heard telling a dispatcher that Mr. Gates is uncooperative and to “keep cars coming.”

Police Commissioner Robert Haas urged people Monday at a news conference to listen to the tapes, then “form your own opinion” about the conduct of those involved.

The controversy about the incident escalated Wednesday when President Obama, during a prime-time televised press conference, said police “acted stupidly,” despite first acknowledging he did not know all of the facts and that Mr. Gates is an acquaintance.

On Friday, Mr. Obama said his choice of words only fueled the controversy and that he had called Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley, whom he described as “an outstanding officer and a good man.”

The men are expected to meet this week at the White House.

“This matter is not resolved,” Commissioner Haas said.

Police officials said their concerns about releasing the tape and revealing the identity of the caller lessened when Ms. Whalen told reporters Sunday she did not say two black men were attempting to enter the house, as the police report states.

The race-relations panel will study the incident and make recommendations on how to avoid problems in the future.

“It’s time to look at lessons learned and move on,” City Manager Robert Healy said.

Cambridge officials also named Chuck Wexler and Robert Wasserman to lead a panel on race relations.

Mr. Healy said the panel of experts will evaluate the incident and make recommendations about avoiding such problems.

However, the study will not an internal investigation.

Mr. Wexler is the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington nonprofit group.

Mr. Wasserman is the chairman of the Strategic Policy Partnership consulting company.

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