Police Supporters Rally In Washington D.C.

(Adds details from march)

By John Clarke

WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Nearly 1,000 people from across the United States marched in the nation's capital on Saturday to show their support for law enforcement and to speak out against what they call an anti-police climate, rally organizers said.

Supporters wearing symbolic blue and carrying signs reading "Blue lives matter" and "Police lives matter" started the "Sea of Blue" rally around noon (1700 GMT) at Washington's National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. They then marched to the Capitol, where eight speakers addressed the crowd, said rally organizer Kelly Wince.

"Today was about telling the nation that we need to defend our officers," said Wince, who helped organize the event with Rachel Bowman and Bobbie Padgett, two other wives of Washington-area police officers. "Officers need to know we care for them. We are here for them."

Other "Sea of Blue" rallies have been held in Las Vegas and Cleveland.

The show of support comes during a national debate over the tactics and attitudes of police toward minority groups.

Police have come under withering criticism since a string of incidents last year in which white officers killed unarmed black males. The deaths touched off a wave of street demonstrations across the country by protesters who say police routinely use unnecessary violence against black men.

Those demonstrations have petered out in recent weeks after the killings of two New York officers by a gunman who indicated before carrying out the shooting that he was seeking to avenge the deaths of the slain black men. The ambush in Brooklyn in December galvanized supporters of law enforcement and prompted something of a backlash against detractors of the police. (Editing By Frank McGurty and Frances Kerry)