The head of the Albuquerque Police Department’s union said Monday that 19 officers who were part of an emergency response unit designated to handle protests have recently quit the unit because they don’t want to put their careers or livelihoods at risk.
In an interview with “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade, police union head Shaun Willoughby said that the 19 or so officers who left felt as though they were not receiving the level of support they needed from city managers and officials after responding to a counter-protest earlier this month.
“Oh yes, 100 percent,” Willoughby, who leads the Albuquerque Police Department Association, said in response to a question from Kilmeade asking if he understood why the officers resigned.
“These officers, this is an extracurricular activity for them. Who wants to sign up to be at the spear of the biggest, most volatile political football in the country?” Willoughby noted, in reference to often-violent protests related to justice issues.
(Video: Fox News)
“There’s a lack of trust with our administration, they were not supported,” he continued, adding that a year ago he was on the program discussing how the Emergency Response Unit stood down in the face of violent protesters who then destroyed a statue as someone else was also shot.
“So we were chastised for not getting involved then, and now we have an individual that’s being removed” from the unit after the counter-protest “for doing absolutely nothing wrong,” the union chief said.
“We had an officer, a sergeant, taken off the job, his gun and badge removed…who wants to live under that type of scrutiny?” Willoughby added. “Morale is gone in the Albuquerque Police Department. They don’t trust their leaders. They don’t trust the city, and they’re tired of being managed by politics.”
Kilmeade responded by citing several incidents involving police officers in other major American cities including one this week in which a motorist reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle, noting that officers feel as though their hands are tied by left-leaning political leaders.
Willoughby said that Albuquerque police are working under a consent decree and that “everything” in the city “is about constitutional policing” unless “it doesn’t prescribe to the political ideology of whoever’s in charge.”
“That’s not how officers operate,” he went on. “We’re not Rubik’s Cubes, we wanna follow the law, act in good faith, and protect our communities. When these communities all over the country, including ours, make a target out of their police officers, our communities better make really warm and fuzzy fellows with our criminals, because that’s what’s happening in this country, as violent crime spikes out of control.”
Over the past several years, but especially since the George Floyd riots and protests began and spread throughout last year, police departments all over the country have had difficulty recruiting enough officers, with many blaming the politics of city leaders.
According to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum obtained in September 2019 by ABC News — before the 2020 riots — results showed “a ‘triple threat’ for police departments: there is a decrease in applications, early exits and higher rates of retirement.”
“Agencies participating in the survey reported that there has been a 63% decrease in applying to become a police officer. Departments are also having trouble hiring non-white/minority applicants the most, followed by female officers, according to the survey,” ABC reported.
“When you do a job that’s being highly criticized on a daily basis, we have to ask ourselves, how do we find good candidates that really want to be under that type of scrutiny,” Montgomery County, Md. acting Police Chief Marcus Jones told the network at the time.
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