Law enforcement officers at Washington, D.C.’s annual Police Week tell The Daily Caller that the anti-police climate is taking its toll on the men and women in uniform and that morale is low in departments across the country.
One source told TheDC Monday night that officers have stepped back from engaging in proactive policing, because they often see the same violent criminals they arrest immediately released on to the streets.
President of the Fraternal Order of Police Chuck Canterbury told TheDC that he believes that a shortage of cops is the reason. “For the last six or eight years, proactive law enforcement has come to a stop because of shortage of personnel.”
Additionally, cops say that the fear of legal and political backlash, similar to what was seen in Ferguson, New York City and Baltimore, is hurting morale. One source at Police Week who also does part-time security work for private companies was astounded at how young some of the violent individuals were during the Baltimore riots.
Another law enforcement source described how objects like bottles are often thrown at the police cruiser she drives.
One recently retired police officer told TheDC that people do not seem to understand that cops do not get up in the morning thinking about who they want to hurt that day.
“Morale is low because we don’t have the public’s backing,” she said, noting that the same people who verbally or even physically attack police officers are the same ones who call them for help. “I pulled a guy over, recently. He was a drunk driver. He said, ‘Fuck you, I hate cops.'”
Sources attending Police Week seem doubtful that the officers in Baltimore will be found guilty of the charges that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby slapped on six officers for the death of 25-year old Freddie Gray.
Gray’s death set off violent riots last month in Baltimore, and some at Police Week warned riots could happen again if the officers are not fully convicted.
Baltimore police officers are reportedly feeling dejected since the Freddie Gray riots and the indictments of their fellow officers, The Baltimore Sun reports.
“I’m hearing it from guys who were go-getters, who would go out here and get the guns and the bad guys and drugs. They’re hands-off now,” a shift commander told the Sun. “I’ve never seen so many dejected faces.”
A law enforcement source told TheDC that some attendees are threatening to turn their backs on President Barack Obama at the annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the Capitol, where Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks. Obama made comments in the past that many in the police community found offensive.
But Canterbury says he does not think most police officers in attendance will turn their backs on Obama and AG Loretta Lynch at the service.
“This event is not to honor the president of the United States. It’s to honor the officers who have been slain in the line of duty,” he said. “And I think the vast majority of police officers in attendance understand that the National Police Officers Memorial Service is to honor those in our brotherhood that have passed away and that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. No, we don’t anticipate that happening.”