D.C. Police Expert to Lead National Review Committee on Prof. Gates Arrest
The City of Cambridge, MA and its Police Department announced the members of a national committee that will examine the July arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, which touched off a national debate on race, class, police procedure and the criminal justice system.
The 12-member volunteer group will be led by D.C-based police expert Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. Since 1977 PERF has worked with its members -- who are leaders from law enforcement agencies across the country -- to discuss research and trends in policing. Wexler is a highly regarded national police expert who has worked with departments across the country.
D.C. Wire reached Wexler, who has led the group since 1993, in his District office this afternoon. "We are very fortunate to have assembled an eclectic group of individuals and they will provide an independent assessment, and lessons learned," he said.
There are other committee members with D.C. ties. Former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who now leads the Philadelphia Police department, and U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms Terrence W. Gainer will also take part in the review. (Read PDF of announcement here. For a full list of committee members, read PDF here.)
Wexler said the members will get together in late September or early October to begin their work.
Like the arrest itself, the committee has already attracted controversy. The Partnership for Civil Justice, a D.C. based national public interest legal group, put out a statement Friday calling Ramsey and Gainer, the former U.S. Capitol Police Chief, "civil rights violators," and said they were unfit to sit on the committee because under their local leadership there were more than 1,000 false arrests during protests that are the subject of ongoing legal action.
"Their direct responsibility for the police actions in Washington, D.C. are highlighted by the federal courts refusal to grant them qualified immunity in class action lawsuits involving more than 1,000 people, all of whom were arrested solely because they were engaged in, or were bystanders to, free speech activities in the nation's capital," the Partnership wrote in a statement.
The debate goes on.
September 11, 2009; 3:59 PM ET
Categories: Crime and Public Safety , Theola Labbé-DeBose
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