The officer whose arrest of a Harvard professor led to a contoversy involving the president spoke Monday at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Sgt. James Crowley spoke in front of about 3,000 officers Monday morning when he addressed the Fraternal Order of Police convention. The officers gave Crowley a standing ovation.
He spoke for only a few minutes, thanking officers for their support. Some left their seats to take photos.
"My sole purpose in coming here was really to reach out to a large organization of police professionals to sincerely thank you," Crowley said in a brief statement to the crowd. "The past month has been very difficult for my family, my friends, my colleagues back in Cambridge. And it's no exaggeration to say that it wouldn't have been as easy for me to handle this without the support of the Fraternal Order of Police."
Crowley arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr. July 16 at the professor's Cambridge home. Gates was attempting to pry open a stuck door and a neighbor called police.
When Gates allegedly yelled at the officer and accused him of racial profiling, Crowley handcuffed the scholar and arrested him on suspicion of disorderly conduct. The charge was later dropped.
At a July 22 news conference, Obama said Crowley acted "stupidly."
The comment led to a meeting at which Gates, Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Crowley talked it out over beers.
The FOP expressed disappointment at Obama's remarks.
Crowley has maintained that he acted appropriately in arresting Gates, and he received the support of the union.
After making his remark about Cambridge police acting stupidly, Obama apologized to Crowley and said he was a good man, but he was still criticized for speaking before he had all the facts.