By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

John Timoney on the Gates arrest

From Miami Police Chief John Timoney, formerly the police commissioner in Philadelphia and a former top police official in New York:

There’s a fine line between disorderly conduct and freedom of speech. It can get tough out there, but I tell my officers, “Don’t make matters worse by throwing handcuffs on someone. Bite your tongue and just leave.”

Via Maureen Dowd.

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Tweaking comments


What did she say and when did she say it?


  1. O-FISH-L

    Chief Timoney dutifully supplied his friend Maureen Dowd with a nice, Sergeant Crowley embarrassing quote for her column. No surprise that Dowd avoided any follow-up on the contradictory material below. When you're an ego driven, desk jockey police chief, you do whatever necessary to remain on the New York cocktail party circuit.No wonder that on September 4, 2007, 520 of 650 Miami police union members cast no-confidence votes against the chief."The defining event of Timoney's tenure, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) summit, came to Miami November 20. Police were on guard because of the massive riots that had taken place in Seattle during a 1999 World Trade Organization meeting and demonstrations during the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, when Timoney was police commissioner there. Hundreds of people were arrested at both. "Timoney's strategy during the RNC was to arrest as many people as possible, look good in front of the TV cameras, and deal with the Constitution later," commented Kris Hermes, spokesman for a group that helped defend many of the demonstrators."–From the lengthy Miami New Times article by Tamara Lush, 09-19-2007, entitled "America's Worst Cop."

  2. Aaron Read

    I think the no-confidence vote stems more because Timoney was apparently not practicing what he preached; he was known for tough discipline within the ranks but apparently was getting a free SUV while Chief of the Miami police.Nevertheless, if you believe even half of what's on Wikipedia about this guy, then Dowd made a fairly serious error in judgment by using him as a reference/source for her commentary. He's known for having a real hardass reputation, both with the public and his own cops. It really undermines his credibility when he says: I tell my officers, 'Don’t make matters worse by throwing handcuffs on someone. Bite your tongue and just leave."Not that it matters. I suspect anyone reading Dowd is probably already made up their mind that Crowley was wrong and Gates was right. 🙂

  3. mike_b1

    If the police don't like it, it's probably good for the citizenry.Name the major city police force that hasn't had scandals of — brutality– murder and/or murder coverups– drug use– planting evidence– drug running– shakedowns/internal gang the past decade.Police are part of the problem. In some precincts, they ARE the problem.

  4. O'Reilly

    rEADING THESE WORDS: There's a fine line between disorderly conduct and freedom of speech. It can get tough out there, but I tell my officers, "Don't make matters worse by throwing handcuffs on someone. Bite your tongue and just leave."i WOULD SAY THAT EVERY BIT OF AD HOMINMEN o-fish dig uP ON him IS IRRELEVENT. wONDER WHY o-fisH DOESN;T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE QUOTE.

  5. lkcape

    Because the "quote", in context, is suspect. The source's credibility is compromised. That's why.Mr B1… How may kids have been shot to death in Roxbury in the past decade? What does that say about the community there? Is everyone in Roxbury a bad apple?Far from it. But that's the way your ideas play when the names and places are changed and you form the fact to fit the conculsion.

  6. O-FISH-L

    O'Reilly, I could swear that I did talk about the quote. I mentioned that it's a nice one, actually fits perfectly for Ms. Dowd, who readily admits Chief Timoney is her friend. It's also embarrassing to Sergeant Crowley, to the extent that some might not know Timoney and take the Miami Police Chief's word as Gospel.My experience is that many of these itinerant, high-profile, big city police chiefs did very little time as patrolmen in uniform, or "in the bag" as they say on NYPD. The bios I've found on Timoney’s career all indicate, as I suspected, a "rapid rise through the ranks." While this is great for the ego and the paycheck, it creates a dangerous learning curve for the administrator, as evidenced by Timoney's ill-informed remarks to Dowd, that are apparently contradicted by his own actions.The vagabond of all current chiefs William Bratton, at the moment working for LAPD, seems to compensate for his lack of patrol experience by surrounding himself with deputies who have it. Rarely, if ever do I recall Bratton second guessing an officer, unless the behavior was so egregious that misconduct was obvious. Bratton is a smart man with a record of truthfulness and integrity. Timoney, the critic, not so much."It is so much easier to be critical than to be correct." — Benjamin Disraeli

  7. mike_b1

    Hehe, lkcape, how many of those people in Roxbury are being PAID to enforce the law?It stands to reason that the same people who are paid extraordinary sums by the taxpayers to enforce the law might actually consider following it.

  8. alkali

    "There's a fine line between disorderly conduct and freedom of speech."This is not a legally correct characterization. Whether someone can be arrested for being rude to a police officer is not a judgment call. Except in the very unusual cases where the speech is directly inciting a riot or other violent crime (e.g., "Let's burn the building down!") speech is protected, full stop.

  9. lkcape

    So they are just doing the violence gratuitously, eh, Mr. B_1?Seems as though one needs to look at individual cases rather than rather broad, and decidedly "colored" brushstrokes!But that wouldn't fit the image that you are trying to paint, now would it?

  10. mike_b1

    Are you going to call me a negro now, lkcape?

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