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Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct


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Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct
Topic: Society 2:37 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2009

Disorderly conduct has its roots in the mid-19th century, when police officers needed a way to quell street brawls that erupted frequently between recent immigrants and already established residents, often regarding labor issues. Crowds would gather and cops needed to restore order in public places.


Jon Shane, who spent 17 years as a police officer in hardscrabble Newark, N.J., said that had he been the cop called to Gates' house, he would have left Gates and his huffy comments alone once he was sure Gates was the homeowner. He admits he may well have been offended by the professor's alleged bluster, but that's just part of the job, so much so that there's a term in police vernacular devoted to situations like this: contempt of cop.

"In contempt of court, you get loud and abusive in a courtroom, and it's against the law," says Shane, now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay who specializes in police policy and practice. "With contempt of cop, you get loud and nasty and show scorn for a law enforcement officer, but a police officer can't go out and lock you up for disorderly conduct because you were disrespectful toward them." The First Amendment allows you to say pretty much anything to the police. "You could tell them to go f--k themselves," says Shane, "and that's fine."

It is interesting to look at the divide between law enforcement officials on whether they believe that they have to 'put up with' being verbally berated. Reading the various news stories, it is nice to see that some cops understand that as much as it sucks this really is part of the job and unique to their profession.

Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct

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