Cambridge Police Unions Applaud Obama's Remarks

Hours after demanding an apology from President Obama, several unions representing Cambridge police officers responded to the president's latest remarks regarding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.

The president spoke with Sergeant James Crowley, who was the arresting officer, on Friday to clarify comments he made this week that Cambridge police acted "stupidly" when they arrested Gates in his house after he showed identification.

Crowley was responding to reports of a break-in when a neighbor saw Gates and his driver trying to push open the front door of Gates' home. Gates allegedly became agitated and started yelling at the officer. The charges of disorderly conduct have since been dropped and Cambridge police have ordered an independent investigation into the arrest.

In his call to Crowley and a conversation with Gates, Obama invited both men to come to the White House and discuss the situation over drinks.

"In my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sgt. Crowley specifically," Obama said in a rare appearance at a White House press briefing on Friday. "I could have calibrated those words differently."

In response to Obama's remarks, the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association and the Massachusetts Municipal Police Coalition issued a statement saying Crowley was "profoundly grateful" that Obama took time out of his busy schedule to attempt to resolve the situation.

"It is clear to us from this conversation, that the President respects police officers and the often difficult and dangerous situations we face on a daily basis. We appreciate his sincere interest and willingness to reconsider his remarks about the Cambridge Police Department," the statement said.

WBUR's Kathleen McNerney contributed to this report.

This program aired on July 25, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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