The enmity on the left toward police, including among some elected political leaders, has undoubtedly taken a toll on the men and women who serve in law enforcement.
After nearly two dozen members resigned from a special protest response team within the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico, a union official representing those officers explained the action was due to “lack of trust” in elected leaders and that they were “tired of being managed by politics,” the Washington Examiner reported.
In addition to the sudden resignation en masse of members of the special team, who still remain members of the regular police force, Police Officer Union President Shaun Willoughby said at least 20 other officers quit the department altogether over the past few months.
“Morale is gone”
The situation in Albuquerque came to a head earlier in April when a member of the team was placed on leave after detaining an armed Black counterprotester while the team stood watch over a planned Proud Boys rally that never materialized.
The counterprotester, named Deyontae Williams, had been armed with a rifle and had reportedly been taunting police officers and others before being briefly taken into custody and then released shortly thereafter without any charges against him. The decision to release him without charges was then later reversed by the department and the officer was placed on leave while an investigation was conducted.
The incident led to 17 officers, one lieutenant, and two sergeants stepping down from the Albuquerque PD’s Emergency Response Team in protest, Fox News reported. Willoughby told Fox & Friends that the resignations were due to the fact that “morale is gone” and the officers “don’t trust their leaders” to actually support them.
“We have an individual that’s being removed from this counter-protest for doing absolutely nothing wrong,” Willoughby told co-host Brian Kilmeade. “He didn’t violate any laws. He was exercising his constitutional rights within the city of Albuquerque and we had a sergeant taken off of his job, gun, and badge removed. Who wants to live under that type of scrutiny?”
“Everything in Albuquerque is about constitutional policing unless the constitutional policing doesn’t prescribe to the political ideology of whoever is in charge,” the union leader added. “That’s not how officers operate. We are not Rubik’s Cubes.”
“Damned if they do, damned if they don’t”
Willoughby further noted that being part of the ERT was an “extracurricular activity” and expressed his doubts that the department “will get anybody to replace these jobs.” Now, whenever there are protests and riots, “We’re going to have to use field services and traditional dispatch with civil unrest from now on.”
He noted that he didn’t blame the officers “at all” for stepping down and asked, with regard to being second-guessed by leadership and having little support from the city, “Who wants to take on that professional liability … [of] being involved in these protests that just are never-ending?”
In a separate interview last week with local media outlet KOB4, Willoughby also stressed the “lack of trust” the officers on the special team felt and that they felt they were “damned if they do, and they’re damned if they don’t,” no matter how a situation was handled.
“We are seeing a dramatic increase of Albuquerque police officers applying to go to other departments,” Willoughby told KOB4. “Morale, let’s not even talk about it because it doesn’t exist. There is no morale. Your Albuquerque police officers are absolutely miserable at work — nobody’s happy.”