The nation’s top police union is sharply criticizing the National Football League for backing law enforcement defunding efforts while paying for officers to protect sidelines and stadium parking lots.

“If it weren’t such a serious issue, we would just laugh at them and go about our business,” said Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“But make no mistake, this is a very serious issue. Our nation is experiencing a crime wave unlike any other in recent history and one of our nation's largest sporting leagues is paying for campaigns to keep criminals and offenders on the streets?” he added.

His comments followed reports about the NFL’s “Inspire Change” program, the league’s social justice campaign, and the efforts to back groups that want to defund police departments and empty out prisons.

“I find it incredibly ironic that NFL teams travel and play every week under the protection of local law enforcement; we have officers in stadiums, parking lots, and even on the sidelines to ensure the safety of the players, team personnel, and of course, the fans. The NFL pays for this security because they want their venues and attendees to be safe. Now, we learn they are sending thousands of dollars to groups whose mission is to end policing and our system of justice,” said Yoes in a statement.

Ever since former quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee, the league has scrambled to side with social justice activists. But the police now said that in backing defunding groups, the NFL has gone too far.

“The NFL sends a clear message that they are on the side of the offenders when instead they could shine a spotlight and provide help and support to crime victims and their families,” said Yoes.