San Francisco Is Choosing to Inflict Moral Injury on Its Cops

San Francisco Is Choosing to Inflict Moral Injury on Its Cops
Police recruits at the San Francisco Police Academy on May 15, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Rich Cibotti

The staggering loss of police officers in San Francisco has been reported more and more often recently, including by me. Estimates from the department itself say the SFPD is at least 500 officers short.

About a year ago, a high-ranking member said that going below the threshold of 1,016 full-duty sworn officers on patrol in San Francisco was cause for major concern. At the time, we had just fallen to 1,015. According to the recent POA meeting, the current number of full-duty officers patrolling San Francisco streets has dropped to a mere 838 cops.

As a matter of fact, in just the first 2 1/2 months of 2022, 68 cops have retired, resigned, or been released from the Academy. With new academy classes not being able to attract even 25 candidates, while budgeted for 55 recruits, we have a colossal problem.

Bring On the Booster Mandates

Currently, over 650 SFPD officers have yet to receive a COVID-19 booster or have not reported their booster status. The Department of Human Resources (SFDHR) communicated to the San Francisco Police Officers Association that it is prepared to put all 650-plus members on leave, pending termination, if they don’t get the booster shot by April 15. If all 650 happen to be on patrol, our new patrol number could be 188 cops, or about a station and a half worth of personnel.

What preparation have they made, other than thinly veiled threats? So far, they still have not finished firing the group from the original vaccine mandate. The dogmatic allegiance of the SFDHR to stick with the booster mandate is complete madness. By the end of 2021, around 400 cops reported they had tested positive for COVID-19 at some point. This was before the large Omicron outbreak infected more members through January 2022, myself included.

Take a look at what the city looks like right now, and imagine the SFPD having 650 fewer members. If it’s even only 100 fewer, that’s still an entire station worth of staffing.

If the SFDHR Is Not Bluffing

Right now, San Francisco streets look like an immersive “The Walking Dead” experience. Why pay $100 a day to go to Universal Studios when you can go to downtown San Francisco and experience the real thing?

The San Francisco version includes all the smells and the textures under your feet that you won’t get in the Universal experience. You probably also won’t be able to remove those indelible images from your memories or from inside the grooves in the soles of your shoes.

You really think cutting 650 more cops is going to help this? Go ahead, SFDHR. You still want to enforce this idiotic and ineffective booster mandate?

If 650 members left the SFPD, it would put staffing under 1,300 sworn members total; that’s including all ranks. Forget pet projects, foot beats, and the Tenderloin Emergency Staffing Plan. Calls for service will go unanswered. I hope after this decision the SFDHR has to go and explain to the local electorate why they cannot find a cop anywhere or why their emergency calls are not answered.

Even if all 650 members go and get the shot against their wishes, what does the future productivity of each of those employees look like? Is that person really going to go serve with the same level of vigor they had before?

My friend and coworker Andrew Clifford addressed the vaccine booster mandate best in a piece he wrote:

“This is not a pro vaccine/anti vaccine issue, it’s an issue about forcing a physical act on someone that they simply don’t want or feel that they need to do. The city is literally causing a self-inflicted ‘moral injury’ on its employees.

“According to the Psychology Today Website, the definition of a Moral Injury is the ‘social, psychological, and spiritual harm, that arises from the betrayal of one’s core values, such as justice, fairness, and loyalty.’”

The pandemic has now become endemic, and the SFDHR needs to get with that fact of life. The “vaccine” does not prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus; however, it may greatly reduce the chance of hospitalization or death.

The booster has now become a personal health decision, not a public health matter. Much like choosing to get a flu shot every year, that is what the COVID booster should be—a personal medical choice.

But if you thought that would be the end of SFDHR mandates, well, buckle up buttercup; another jab is coming soon. Pfizer has already announced that a fourth dose will be necessary, so I’m sure the hive-minded people in city government are already figuring out how to implement that one.

If the city chooses to inflict moral injury upon its cops, they will no doubt have fewer of them very soon. This loss of experienced and well-trained officers will devastate the already depleted department.

The loss of officers to other agencies or retirement is accelerating. A couple of months ago, I wrote that on average the SFPD loses 7.5 cops to retirement, resignation, or separation per month. However, those numbers are out of date. Since Jan. 1, 2022, the SFPD has lost 68 members, making the current 2022 average into 22 cops a month, without knowing our losses for the last two weeks of March.

At our current hiring rate of about 25 per class, even running four classes per year would only get 100 new cops if all the recruits pass. Since our current passage rate of officers through FTO is 67 percent, the SFPD would most likely only get 67 new cops a year.

If the SFDHR goes through with this idiotic booster mandate, it will take a decade to replace the 650 terminated members. Not to mention that this does not help replace the over 500 cops currently eligible to retire, who would basically never get replaced.

Go ahead and push the mandate. Keep pushing this anti-scientific nonsense. When you treat your employees like expendables, don’t be surprised when they leave.

Or maybe take advice from Kenny Rogers’s song “The Gambler”:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run.”

It’s time for the SFDHR to fold, before all the cops walk away—or even run.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Rich Cibotti is a Sergeant in the San Francisco Police Department and a primary instructor at the SFPD Police Academy, and he is also a licensed attorney. Visit his site at All opinions are Rich Cibotti's own and do not reflect that of the San Francisco Police Department.
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