About a year and a half ago in Arlington we had a situation in which an off-duty Houston cop shot and killed a young man who appeared to be going for a weapon. The boy had been caught in the act of doing something and refused to respond to the cop's requests. When the young man turned and stuck his hand in the front of his jeans the cop pulled his concealed weapon and shot.
The cop was hispanic, the kid was black. When Arlington PD decided not to press charges based on the evidence available, a large group of New Black Panthers and others supporting their claims began to protest APD, calling them racist and saying that they would have pressed charges if a white boy had been killed.
Over the next month or so, APD cops were harrassed daily. Protests were held at the city jail house and cops were threatened and assaulted trying to enter and leave the facility. The mayor and police chief thought that retaliation through the law (i.e. arresting and charging those who threatened or assaulted an officer) would only increase tensions, so they told their officers not to respond to the attacks. Despite the lack of action, tensions continued to rise. Officers were followed home from their assigned station houses, angry citizens showed up at the homes of officers making threats. Cops began to express concern about pulling over black drivers or confronting black citizens who were observed in the act of suspicious or illegal behavior. Cops began hiding their uniforms and dressing only at the station house. Some of them stopped staying in their own houses. It took almost a year for the tensions to subside.
Now, perhaps if the police chief and mayor had allowed for the arrest of citizens making threats/causing injury, a lot of those issues could have been avoided. But the fact remains that cops who had nothing at all to do with a city DA decision based on a shooting that didn't involve city cops were put at risk, threatened, and made to feel unsafe in the process of doing their jobs (and even when off duty). There was absolutely no justification for the actions of those citizens, just as Anonymous has no justification for "outing" the private homes of police officers in OWS cities. The potential consequences are more important than some arbitrary vendetta against governmental invasion of privacy, IMO.