Florida sheriff hits 'dangerous' calls to defund police: 'The majority of cops are here for public safety'

Pinellas County (Fla.) Sheriff Bob Gualtieri joined "Outnumbered Overtime" Monday to respond to growing calls to defund police departments around America, warning that such a move would be "unrealistic" and "dangerous."

"That means cops, that means boots on the ground," Gualtieri told host Harris Faulkner. "That means the people you call at 3 a.m. when you call 911 and someone is breaking into your house.

"So to those people, I say what will it feel like when you call 911 and somebody says 'We are on a 30-minute delay because we don’t have the people?'


"We all support the notion we can do better," Gualtieri added, "but this notion of defunding employees or eliminating police departments frankly is just a bunch of political rhetoric. It’s unrealistic. There are bad guys out there that want to hurt people and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen."

Gualtieri's comments come amid growing calls to weaken law enforcement in the wake of George Floyd's May 25 death while in police custody.

Days after Floyd, who is black, died after a white officer knelt on his neck, Black Lives Matter announced a “call for a national defunding of police." Notable Democratic politicians as well as celebrities have echoed the sentiment.

Gualtieri agreed that while "there's always room to do better," much of the public is unaware of the existing policies already in place in Florida, including a ban on the use of chokeholds.


"We also need to make sure the police chiefs and the sheriffs are supported when they make hard decisions and make the right decisions to terminate officers and sheriff’s deputies," he explained.

"So we need to look at it all," Gualtieri agreed. "We need to weed out the bad apples -- but those bad apples are few and far between. The majority of cops are here for public safety and to support the public ... we have to be here and this notion of taking cops away or eliminating police departments, it’s dangerous."

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.