Gates committee report misses deadline; now due in summer
The Cambridge Review Committee missed its own spring deadline to post a report resulting from the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Instead, the panel “will be issuing its final report late next week,” said the police department’s communications specialist, Dan Riviello, on Tuesday afternoon. No other information was available.
Here’s a rough timeline of how the report’s release date has been described:
When the 12-member panel was created in September, Police Commissioner Robert Haas said it was working on a timeline of up to five months, but that deadline was apparently extended. In mid-January, the Cambridge Chronicle reported that the committee was saying a final report would be made public some time in the “early part of 2010.”
After saying in a March 1 progress report that the committee “hopes to produce its final report in the late spring,” committee liaison Jennifer Flagg confirmed May 17 that the final report was in the final drafting stages and due in late spring, likely meaning early June.
In a June 11 post that was updated June 14, Flagg is quoted in the Cambridge Chronicle as saying the report would be released last week, although Flagg told Cambridge Day on Wednesday, or June 16, that it would not be and that she didn’t know what the Chronicle had reported.
And by Thursday — a day later, or June 17 — when The Boston Globe published its analysis of Cambridge arrests based on disorderly conduct, it said the committee report was due “this summer.”
The committee, made of a dozen members from around the country and Flagg, the communications expert based in Cambridge, was funded for the year for up to $210,000, according to City Manager Robert W. Healy, with $130,000 of that being Flagg’s salary. Its mission is to look at broad police procedures, not to address the July 16 incident in which the black Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct at his home by a white police officer, Sgt. James Crowley.
The charges were dropped five days later, but Riviello said Friday that the arrest had not been erased from Gates’ record.
“I spoke with our records department and they informed me that an ‘expungement’ order comes from the courts,” Riviello said. “We have not received such an order and professor Gates’ record still remains in our database.”
The progress report issued by the committee reassured that the panel’s work “has been broad-based and thorough” and notes efforts already were under way in the community to address the “issues of trust” that are the focus of the committee’s work. The committee said it was encouraged by efforts initiated by the police department, such as experimenting with alternate solutions in citizen complaint cases and adopting a training program, used nationwide, called Tools for Tolerance. It makes new police officers “more aware of how they react when citizens get angry at them,” the Globe said.
In another change cited in the paper, “Now, every time officers charge someone with disorderly conduct, they must thoroughly document why they made the arrest.”
From the Globe’s report, by Rochelle Sharpe and Maggie Mulvihill of the New England Center For Investigative Reporting:
“Haas called the Gates incident ‘a major crisis’ for his department. He said his department conducted a study of its use of disorderly conduct charges between 2004 and 2008. The analysis, which also concluded race was not an issue, will be posted on the department’s website.
“Sergeant James Crowley, who arrested Gates, said in a written statement that the findings clear him and his department of racism.’ I have never and will never use race to affect how I do my job,’ he said.
“Specialists cautioned that the findings do not prove Gates was wrong in raising the race issue, saying that it is not possible to determine from a statistical analysis whether conscious or unconscious bias played a role in the interaction between Gates and Crowley.”
A message left for Flagg on Tuesday morning has not been answered.
This post has been updated with Riviello’s comments.