Police union leaders: Criminals emboldened as of late

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ST. LOUIS - Police union leaders say criminals have become emboldened because they know that officers on the street may be reluctant to engage criminal suspects, for fear of strong criticism from the public and politicians.

Police leaders say that drop in arrests means officers are initiating fewer interactions with possible suspects, because officers are worried they will be scorned for the actions. Police union leaders say there is a moral problem.

“Well, nobody wants to be the next Darren Wilson and until politicians decide they're going to start supporting police officers, our guys are very reluctant," said Jeff Roorda, St. Louis Police Officers Association.

"Police officers that unfortunately may be less inclined to engage in proactive policing strategies, which have been proven to reduce the crime rate," said Gabe Crocker, St. Louis County Police Officers Association.

City leaders say they’ve been concerned about the focus of officers in recent months.

“We have one of the best police departments in the country,” said Mayor Francis Slay. “When our police department is focused they do a great job…and it’s our job to keep them focused."

"Officers are taking it personally. They are out on the street making sure that they are doing everything they can possibly do to keep us safe and find the people that are responsible for this," said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.

Union leaders say some officers are so discouraged it’s not unusual to hear them talking about looking for another job out of law enforcement.