Denver Police Chief Robert White on Sunday defended his policy ordering police not to interfere with protesters, saying he found it “disgusting” that they vandalized a memorial for fallen police officers while officers had to stand by and watch, but he said their restraint was necessary to protect the community.

Protesters threw red paint on the memorial outside the department’s headquarters Saturday during a march against police brutality.

Officers and the city’s police union were upset after they were told not to interfere.

In an email sent throughout the department on Sunday, White said there are only rare occasions when police would have to take “immediate enforcement action” during a demonstration.

“We have learned that providing route security at a distance and intentionally avoiding direct confrontation prevents injury to officers, limits liability, and minimizes the criminal actions of many protesters,” the chief wrote in the email obtained by The Associated Press. The email came after officers said they should have been allowed to act sooner upon witnessing a crime.

Denver Director of Public Safety Stephanie O’Malley said the policy of restraint is “a model for other cities as they respond to a growing wave of protests across America.”

The policy for Denver police was issued following widespread protests over several police shootings, including the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, and the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City. Officers involved in both shootings were later cleared of any charges by local grand juries.

In Denver, some protesters held signs in support of Jessica Hernandez, a teenager who was shot and killed by Denver officers last month after she drove a stolen car toward an officer.

Matthew Goldberg, 23, and Robert Guerrero, 25, were charged with criminal mischief-vandalism for throwing red paint on the memorial during the rally.

“That our officers, working the demonstration today, had to watch the outrageous vandalism to our sacred memorial, without being able to intervene, is inexcusable and unacceptable,” Denver Police Officer Danny Veith wrote in an email to White. “Equally alarming is the escalation of anti-police rhetoric … – Click Here To Visit Article Source