An outgoing police lieutenant in Aurora, Colo., slammed the city council in a blistering resignation letter that blamed the 10-member board for turning their backs on cops, siding with protesters and stoking racism.
"It is with great sadness that I inform you of my retirement after 25 years in law enforcement," retired Lt.. Dave Cernich said in a letter obtained by Denver's FOX31. "I spent the past 20 years in Aurora and it was a pleasure to do so, until this year. I can honestly say that my retirement is a result of you. I am disheartened by your lack of respect for the occupation that I've revered for so long."
Cernich, who was shot in the line of duty in 1999, said he had always wanted to be a police officer but that the past six months have changed his mind.
"I'm leaving premature as a result of what's going on in the community," he said. "What's going on in the community is fostered by city council and the city manager."
Cernich said 99% of his department wants to leave.
"They don't feel appreciated by the community anymore. They don't feel appreciated by city council anymore, there's protests every single weekend, there's people spitting on us, calling us all kinds of bad names."
Cernich said he decided to call it quits after protesters took over District 1 on July 3.
"The city thinks their First Amendment right is more important than my life," he said. "I can't protect my cops anymore. City council is dictating what the cops do. I can't protect my troops anymore; as a lieutenant, if I can't protect my troops, I don't need to be here."
Cernich warned that more cops were willing to walk and that the city was "going to lose a lot of good people who aren't going to be there when you need help."
Cernich singled out Councilmember Angela Lawson in his letter, saying he was "disappointed" in her.
"She actually came out and rode with me numerous times," he said. "During those rides we discussed race and even discussed racial profiling. As we rode around I would ask her to identify the drivers/occupants of the vehicle that passed us and she said she couldn't identify them. I proved to her that traffic stops are made based on violations of the traffic code or criminal statutes and not race."
That didn't sit well with Lawson, who told FOX31 that data showed racial disparities exist in how policing is administered.
"The personal attacks on me, the only black woman on Council demonstrates the problem and Lt. Cernich comments are a shining example of the problem. By pretending that racial disparities are not happening undermines the community trust in the department. Maybe instead of attacking me Lt. Cernich should focus on some inward introspection on how he could have been a better officer."