Even when cops are trying to gain the public’s sympathy, they are not immune from trampling on the First Amendment rights of the press.

Take the latest case from Atlantic City where hundreds of cops packed into a meeting to show support for five officers who are being laid off.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, a pair of journalists were ordered to leave by Mayor John McMenamin for reasons that are not clear.

Emotions ran high at Tuesday’s meeting and at one point, McMenamin told a Press of Atlantic City reporter and photographer to leave the meeting, while allowing another newspaper photographer to stay. The Press staff refused, citing their right to be at a public meeting.

Police Chief Thomas Conroy asked McMenamin if he wanted to sign a criminal complaint against them. McMenamin declined to sign.

As chief of police, Conroy should have defended the journalists’ right to be at the public meeting rather than offer to sign a criminal complaint against them.