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NYPD Officers Have Conflicting Feelings As They Deal With The 'War Zone' And Public Perception

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- For the NYPD rank and file, dealing with the peaceful George Floyd protests and the violent looting has been a huge task.

Police officers on the front lines describe the city as being like a "war zone" the last several nights, as looters and rioters took advantage of legitimate protest.

"Insanity. Smoke bombs, bottles ...," one officer told CBS2's Andrea Grymes on Tuesday. "It was (expletive) nuts. I swear at one point I just kept saying 'Our Fathers' over and over."

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In the Bronx, a car slammed into an NYPD officer, leaving him in serious condition.

It was a similar scene early Monday in Greenwich Village, as an officer was hit by a getaway car after cops say a group looted a cellphone store.

Those were just a few of the attacks on officers in recent days.

"Police officers shot at, unacceptable. That does not move us forward. Anyone who does that is a criminal, not a protester," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "An attack on a police officer is an attack on all of us, pure and simple."

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But the Police Benevolent Association said the mayor's words ring hollow. The union is blasting what it calls his rush to judgment against cops in certain cases, like in the case of one officer who pulled out his gun.

The PBA tweeted video of what happened in the seconds leading up to that, when a lieutenant was his hit in the head with a brick.

"The messages they are saying are not clear. Send a message of it stops, it stops today. We will support this Police Department while we go out there and do this job that most don't want to do. Recognize the fact that we're at risk," PBA President Pat Lynch said.

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Separate from the violence are the protests against racism and police brutality.

Critics say the police unions should do more to help improve relations between officers and community, rather than keep up the so-called "blue wall" of silence when police actions are being investigated in the city.

They believe the police presence at the protests isn't helping.

"We said there's too much of an oppressive force. It would cause more tension, not relieve that tension," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

MORENYPD Officers Take Knee In Solidarity With Protesters; De Blasio Praises Them For 'Listening, Working With The Community'

Even within the NYPD, where a majority of officers are minorities, there is a difference of opinion.

Chief of Department Terence Monahan took a knee Monday in solidarity with marchers in Washington Square Park.

Later that night, an anonymous cop had this response over the radio when a call came over to help Monahan with an arrest in Chelsea: "Go take a knee."

The NYPD has now gone from eight-and-a-half-hour to 12-hour shifts. Lynch noted officers could be held even longer if needed. Many across the city are just hoping the police and the public stay safe.

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