'No surprise' defund police movement causing officers to leave profession: California sergeant

Rich Cibotti warns that the officer shortage could lead to 'a big problem'

San Francisco police academy sergeant Rich Cibotti told "America’s Newsroom" on Wednesday that it’s "no surprise" the defund the police movement caused officers to "move on." 

Cibotti, who is a member of The San Francisco Police Officers Association, pointed out that his department is "losing a lot of people" and is "understaffed." He explained why he believes "a lot" of officers have been deciding to leave the profession. 

"I think we all took this job because we believe we had a calling and that’s why we chose to do this," Cibotti said. "We knew what the risks were." 

"Now that the job is kind of changing and we’re not really in this calling thing and we’re getting into a different job it’s causing a lot of people to decide not to do it anymore or to leave," he continued. "We’ve seen people leave with their feet and move to different states [and] different departments." 

Cibotti warned that "unless we stop that from happening we’re really going to have a problem going forward." 

He was reacting to a video of San Francisco officer, who was patrolling alone in Chinatown, being violently tackled to the ground by a homeless man until bystanders intervened. 


Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, told Fox News that severe staffing shortages at the San Francisco Police Department, paired with the local prosecutor's "criminal-first agenda" is creating a dangerous situation on city streets headed into the summer months. 

Security camera footage released by the union showed several bystanders rushing to pry the homeless man off the female officer before police backup arrived. The officer, whose name has not been released, is of Asian descent and the incident is under investigation as a possible hate crime. She was left patrolling the area alone, without her partner due to staffing shortages, the union said. 

Mayor London Breed introduced a new budget proposal Tuesday that set a goal to have at least 1,224 full-duty police officers patrolling the city at any given time. That number is currently in the mid-900s and continues to drop with officers retiring, leaving for other police departments or simply leaving the profession, Montoya said. 

The suspect has been identified as 33-year-old Gerardo Contreras, who was initially booked into San Francisco County Jail.

"Right now we have a large homeless population in San Francisco. We’ve had it for a while," Cibotti noted. "When you mix that with most of them being mentally ill or having some kind of narcotics issue and an understaffed police department you’re going to have these kinds of attacks on solo officers."

Also on Tuesday, Breed reportedly introduced a budget proposal for the next two years that aims to spend $1 billion on addressing homelessness in San Francisco. Despite calls to defund police, the proposal dedicates $65 million for violence prevention and safety—including funding to maintain police staffing levels. 


It also includes investments to grow nonofficer teams to respond to homelessness and mental health crises, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.