Cops Weigh In on Responding to Insults

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2009 9:17 AM CDT
Henry Louis Gates Jr. center, the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, is arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass, July 16, 2009.   (AP Photo/Demotix Images, B. Carter)
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(Newser) – Just how reasonable was Sgt. James Crowley being when he arrested Skip Gates for mouthing off to him? The New York Times asks a wide range of cops how they handle abuse in the field, and got a range of responses. “If you don’t have a tough skin, then you shouldn’t be a cop,” opines one LA officer. “We’re not dealing with people at their best.” But taunting cops in public is a no-no to some. "You don’t get paid to be publicly abused," says a New York cop.

Others say it's a matter of brotherhood. “I wouldn’t back down if there’s a crowd gathering,” says a Brooklyn cop, because it would send a message of weakness that could haunt other officers. But a retired New York City police captain says Crowley didn’t exercise common sense, and should have walked away. He adds that black men are more likely to be arrested for what police call “getting lippy.”