Sgt. Crowley's Press Conference After Meeting Obama

Sgt. Crowley's Press Conference After Meeting Obama

By James Crowley - July 30, 2009

SGT JAMES CROWLEY: First, I would like to thank the police officers from Cambridge, from my hometown of Natick and from Massachusetts and across the country for your overwhelming support for me and my family during this difficult time.

During this ordeal, one of the challenges was to make clear to people across America what a difficult and challenging job police officers face every day. We had a cordial and productive discussion today with the president, the vice president, and Professor Gates. We have all agreed that it is important to look forward rather than backward. Issues important to all of us will form the basis of discussions between Professor Gates and me in the days and weeks to come.

Professor Gates and I bring different perspectives to these issues and we have agreed that both perspectives should be addressed in an effort to provide a constructive outcome to the events of the past month.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also here with us, we have Dennis O'Connor, who is the president of the Cambridge Police Officers Association, and Alan McDonald (ph), who is a legal counsel, as well.

QUESTION: Did anyone apologize?


QUESTION: Sergeant Crowley, (inaudible). What was accomplished today around that table with the president and the vice president?

CROWLEY: I think what was accomplished was this was a positive step in moving forward as opposed to reliving the events of the past couple of weeks, and an effort to move not just the city of Cambridge or two individuals past this event, but the whole country, to move beyond this and use this as a basis of maybe some meaningful discussions in the future.

QUESTION: So Sergeant, When you talk about these discussions, was there some sort of plan for you and Professor Gates to be meeting again or meeting on a regular basis?


QUESTION: Can you tell us, you know, that you're going to have one meeting a week or you've already planned a meeting?

CROWLEY: We have already planned a meeting. The professor is heading back to the vineyard right now to spend time with his family. He and I are going to have a phone conversation in the coming days to lay the groundwork for that meeting that's already been discussed.

QUESTION: And you're going to meet -- do you know where you're going to meet or (inaudible).


QUESTION: Can you tell us?



CROWLEY: The venue is much too small to support all of us.

QUESTION: Are you going to meet in a house, or are you going to meet in a bar for a beer, you're going to meet at the governor's mansion?

CROWLEY: I think meeting at a bar for a beer on a second occasion is going to send out the wrong message. So maybe a Kool-Aid or iced tea or something like that. We do have a venue in mind, but again, that's also up for discussion.

QUESTION: What kind of things would you like to discuss with Professor Gates?

CROWLEY: I would like not only to discuss, but I would also like to listen to Professor Gates' perspective, and certainly he has the credentials to enlighten me a little bit, and I think that perhaps the professor, as he expressed to me, has the willingness to listen to what my perspective is as a police officer. And again, as I said in the statement, the difficult job...

QUESTION: Was anything solved today, Sergeant Crowley?

CROWLEY: Hold on just a second. I just want to finish that. The difficult job that police officers do every day. So the professor was quite receptive to that.

I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Was anything solved today, Sergeant?

CROWLEY: As far as -- well, we agreed to move forward.


CROWLEY: No, I think what you had today was two gentleman agreed to disagree on a particular issue. I don't think that we spent too much time dwelling on the past. We have spent a lot of time discussing the future.

QUESTION: Can you describe how the body language was, and how the tone was set? Because the people who saw the first couple of minutes said that (inaudible).

CROWLEY: Well, that wasn't the first we encountered -- the professor and I encountered each other while we were both on individual tours of the White House, and the professor approached me and introduced his family, I introduced my family, and then we continued on with the tour, but as a group. Two families, moving together, and that was the start. So it was very cordial.

QUESTION: Sergeant, can you share any words the president shared with you? CROWLEY: It was a private discussion. It was a frank discussion. I would rather not go into the specifics of what was discussed.

QUESTION: Did the president make any contributions to the discussion?

CROWLEY: He provided the beer.

QUESTION: Pretty much it?

CROWLEY: He contributed in a small part, but he really wanted to bring two people together to try to solve not only a local issue in Cambridge, but also what has become a national issue.

QUESTION: Did he...

CROWLEY: Hold on just one second.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you. The president has talked about this being a teachable moment. Did you learn anything? What did you learn through this?

CROWLEY: What have I learned from this? I learned that the media can find you no matter where you live. They did a good job of doing that.

I think that's the responsibility of Professor Gates and I in the coming weeks when we have these discussions to maybe learn from each other. Certainly, he brings a lot to the table, and I hope that I do as well.

QUESTION: Did the president express any additional regret over saying that the police had acted stupidly (inaudible)?

CROWLEY: The vice president was just a great man, it was nice, he was very nice with the children as well. We did share a few stories that were unrelated to the topic at hand.

I'm sorry, what was the first question?

QUESTION: Did the president express any additional regret over saying...?

CROWLEY: Parts of that conversation are private, and we understand that going into it, so I think it would be best to honor that agreement.

QUESTION: Can you just say on a personal level, what it was like to have this experience?

CROWLEY: I'm not really sure this is really happening. I'm still not -- having caught up with this. I'm going to need a few days off maybe just to reflect on the events of the past couple of weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great, we want to thank everyone. QUESTION: Wait! I have one more question.

CROWLEY: Please. Yes.

QUESTION: You brought a letter from Sergeant Lashley to give to the professor (ph) (inaudible), did you not?

CROWLEY: I did not.

QUESTION: OK. It was my understanding that there was a letter that was delivered that Sergeant Lashley perhaps feels that Professor Gates may have caused irreparable harm, and (inaudible)?

CROWLEY: Sergeant Lashley has views on this event, just like we all do. Those are Sergeant Lashley's views, and I knew in the days before, Sergeant Lashley came out in support of my position, that he was going to be putting himself in a position of ridicule. Sergeant Lashley's statement, whatever it is, I haven't heard it, would speak for itself. It wasn't a message I relayed.

QUESTION: Can you talk, though, about the support that you've gotten from the police in Cambridge?

CROWLEY: The men and women of the two associations have been tremendous. They have helped provide protection for my family. I've gotten phone calls, e-mails, letters, things in the mail from the men and women of the police department, and I think this has brought us closer together as a law enforcement family, and I wouldn't want to leave out the incredible work that the Natick police department has done in ensuring the safety of my family. As you know, they have been barraged with the media, out in a small area of the town, and those men and women really deserve a lot of thanks, because they're protecting what is most important to me, my family.

QUESTION: What's your impression of the president?

QUESTION: How has your perspective changed on this?

CROWLEY: He's a very interesting man.

QUESTION: A very interesting man in what way?

CROWLEY: He's just a regular person sitting around a table having a discussion about an issue, and he just was very cordial. I respect the man a great deal.

QUESTION: Was there tension, or did you guys sort of, you know...

CROWLEY: There was no tension.

QUESTION: No tension.

CROWLEY: No tension.

QUESTION: Did you joke around and have an ordinary conversation, or was it business? Was it business?

CROWLEY: It was both. It was business, but discussing it like two gentleman instead of fighting it out either in the physical sense or in the mental sense, in the court of public opinion. So it was very productive.

QUESTION: Did Professor Gates ask you to be part of any documentary he's thinking of working on?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Thank you all very much. We really appreciate it.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much.

James Crowley

Author Archive

Follow Real Clear Politics

Latest On Twitter