By Zachary Cohen and Josh Campbell, CNN
Still grappling with physical and mental trauma from the January 6 insurrection, several police officers who were on the front lines that day want more support from the nation’s largest police union and are calling on law enforcement groups to publicly denounce those who have lied about the severity of the US Capitol attack.
Three of the officers who testified Tuesday before the House Select Committee investigating the attack are among those speaking out, including Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone who told CNN that the Fraternal Order of Police has not contacted him since the riot took place.
“The post-January 6th experience for me, as someone who fought that day to defend the Capitol, has been, I would say, as traumatic as the actual day itself,” he said Wednesday on CNN’s New Day. “After January 6th, neither myself or any other officer I spoke with who experienced that day ever had any outreach from the National Fraternal Order of Police. Zero.”
After six months of silence, Fanone told CNN he decided to contact the Fraternal Order of Police.
“I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t particularly impressed with that conversation,” Fanone said, recalling how the FOP president sidestepped several of his requests and would not commit to publicly denouncing those who have attempted to whitewash the violence of January 6, including former President Donald Trump who previously described the attack as a “love fest” between rioters and law enforcement.
“That’s a lie,” he added, referring to Trump’s characterization of the insurrection.
Fanone says he also asked the FOP president to publicly denounce Republicans who voted against awarding Capitol Police officers with medals commemorating their heroism on January 6 and any active duty or retired law enforcement officer that participated in the insurrection.
“I’ve received no commitment as to any of those things. None whatsoever,” he said.
Fanone’s frustration with the lack of support provided by national police organizations was echoed by two US Capitol Police officers who also testified Tuesday about their horrific experiences on January 6 — Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell.
“We are very disappointed that the national FOP and local DC union has not strongly condemned the January 6th insurrection and unquestionably issued its full support for all the officers involved,” Mark Zaid, an attorney who represents both Dunn and Gonell said in a statement to CNN on their behalf. “There should be nothing to debate on these points. You either stand with the officers or you stand with the terrorists.”
One concern among officers has been how repeated lies and a lack of public support could hurt efforts to attract people to the police profession at a time when these departments need more officers.
“This is devastating for recruiting. Yes, we need bodies right now. But this makes it harder. Especially when you’re trying to attract the talent we need — people who are willing to risk their lives to protect you guys,” Gonell told the panel Tuesday.
CNN reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police for comment on Fanone’s claims but did not receive a response. The organization did issue a statement on January 6 praising officers and condemning the lawlessness.
And in a new statement Tuesday, the FOP again reiterated its support for officers who defended the Capitol, which included a commitment to “be with them as they grieve and recover, however long that may take.”
The USCP union also did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
While officers who responded to the violent insurrection are calling on national police organizations to more forcefully condemn the January 6 attack, they have received some public support from newly appointed USCP chief Tom Manger.
“The quality of this department is superior. It is a good department — the men and women of this agency. They certainly showed their courage and dedication on January 6th,” he told CNN in an interview earlier this month on his first day as the department’s new chief.
“I know what the men and women of this agency went through. I know the challenges that they faced. I also know the courage they displayed that day. And it was a horrific time,” Manger added. “We’re going to work hand in glove with the Department of Justice to make sure that these folks are held accountable.”
On Tuesday, Manger reiterated that message in a statement praising the four officers who testified before the select committee and thanked all those who “fought like hell to preserve our democracy” on January 6.
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