CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Twelve people from across the country have been chosen to serve on an independent panel to review the arrest of a black Harvard scholar at his home by a white police officer, Cambridge officials said Thursday.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum, was tapped to lead a committee that will include Yale Law professor Tracey Meares, former FBI assistant director Louis Quijas and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
City leaders created the panel after the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. triggered a national debate over racial profiling.
Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley arrested Gates for disorderly conduct at his home July 16 while investigating a possible burglary. The charge was dropped, and Gates alleged he was a victim of racial profiling.
President Barack Obama invited Crowley and Gates for an informal “beer summit” at the White House two weeks later.
“This is a historic opportunity for the city to emerge as a stronger community,” Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy said in a statement.
Healy said panel members were chosen based on their diverse professional backgrounds and their experience with community relations and conflict resolution.
Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said the newly named panel will give an “independent assessment” of the July 16 arrest.
“Cambridge wants to take away something meaningful from this process that can be helpful for the city and the nation,” Haas said.
The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time early next month. It’s unclear how long its review will take.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.