A growing number of police officers nationwide feel "betrayed" by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder because of their calls for reforms to policing practices in the wake of the shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, according to The Washington Post
Meanwhile, the rift between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department appeared to have deepened Sunday after hundreds of officers attending the funeral of murdered policeman Wenjian Liu turned their backs in a sign of anger and defiance when the mayor rose to speak, The Wall Street Journal reported
But even more concerning to many police officials is how the anger in New York seems to be spreading around the nation. Many of the officers who turned their backs on de Blasio Sunday were out-of-town police who traveled to New York City for the funeral.
"We might be reaching a tipping point with the mindset of officers, who are beginning to wonder if the risks they take to keep communities safe are even worth it anymore," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said, according to the Post.
"In New York and other places, we're seeing a natural recoil from law enforcement officers who don't feel like certain people who need to have their backs have their backs."
The latest protest by the police comes after other incidents late last month. Officers turned their backs
on the mayor at the funeral of the other police officer who was killed alongside Liu, Rafael Ramos, and they did the same at an NYPD graduation ceremony.
Leaders of the police union have blamed the mayor for fostering an anti-NYPD atmosphere they believe contributed to the slayings of the two officers.
In the wake of the deaths, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, had suggested that the responsibility for the deaths "starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor."
"Police officers feel like they were turned upon by City Hall, and we have a right to express our opinion as well, as they did respectfully," Lynch said of the police officers who turned their backs on the mayor, according to the Journal. He said it was "an organic gesture that started on the streets of New York."
Other high level public figures, including former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and former governor George Pataki have all suggested that de Blasio, Holder, President Barack Obama, and civil rights activist Al Sharpton have fanned the flames of hostility toward police, the Post reported.
Delroy Burton, chairman of the Washington, D.C. police officers union, said Holder "gave the impression that he was against us. Like there aren't two sides to this," the Post reported.
Burton also said that Obama's announcement of federal funding for the purchase of body cameras for police came across as antagonistic.
"He could have said, 'We are going to help you weed out the bad guys from your profession. We know the vast majority of you are out there doing the right thing,' " Burton said, according to the Post.
Law enforcement families in cities across the country have organized demonstrations in support of officers in recent weeks.
"I think officers are good people who go out there to do good. Are there some things that need to be changed in law enforcement? Maybe. But it's important that our officers know they have their community's support."
Police leaders are now saying that it will be up to the mayor to extend the olive branch and heal the rift with the police.
"As far as any type of a fix is concerned between City Hall and the members of the NYPD, that challenge falls squarely on the shoulders of the mayor," Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, a police union, told the Journal. "Words alone won't heal the wounds."
In his eulogy for Liu on Sunday, de Blasio made reference to the divisions and appealed for a renewed effort at "mutual understanding," the Journal reported.
"Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite and working together to obtain peace," de Blasio said.
A spokesman for the mayor said: "Our city and this administration are focused on doing everything possible to support the grieving families of our fallen heroes," the Journal reported.
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