Amid Black Lives Matter protests, cops explain what drove them to leave the force

Approved ~~ MJM

Protesters aren’t the only ones losing faith in law enforcement. Cops themselves are beginning to question their roles amid outcry over excessive force.

Nearly 80% of Americans say police brutality is a “moderately” or “extremely/very” serious problem in US policing, according to a new AP-NORC poll. And a recent flurry of whistleblowers suggests that former and current officers may be more aligned with that sentiment.

Now, former law enforcement officials are beginning to speak out on why recent events might prompt cops to question their loyalty to the force.

“When I saw the George Floyd incident — that was a clarion bell,” said Paula Sophia Schonauer, a 22-year police veteran who retired in 2014. She told The Post that the horrific footage of his death has motivated her to share her demoralizing experience as an officer in Oklahoma City.

“The silence has got to stop,” she said.

Despite a recent increase in police spending, many of the country’s cops — between 33% and 66% depending on the size of the agency — serve fewer than five years on the force, according to data produced by the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center and funded by the Department of Justice in 2001. (The DOJ confirmed in an email that this report is the most recent available on the subject.)

We asked four current and former officers from across the US to share some of the experiences that prompted them to turn-in their badge for good. While The Post has conducted our own independent verification, many have chosen to be unidentified for fear of retaliation from former colleagues and other law enforcement supporters.



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