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SF Police Commission Nixes TASER Use

March 04, 2010  | 

The San Francisco Police Commission has denied a proposal from Chief George Gascon that would have given patrol officers the option of using less-lethal electronic control devices to reduce officer-involved shootings.

The commission voted 4-3 to deny Gascon's request to give TASER devices to officers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The department's former Chief Heather Fong had also unsuccessully tried to get TASER stun guns approved for use.

Six types of less-lethal force are currently authorized under the department's General Order manual that sets use-of-force standards for the department.

Officers can use verbal persuasion, hands-on, OC, carotid restraint, a 24-inch straightstick (a 36-inch baton is for crowd control), or a less-lethal shotgun that fires bean-bag projectiles.

Rather than following a use-of-force model that requires officers to try lesser means before deadlier methods, San Francisco officers decide which method to use based on the situation, Sgt. Wilfred Williams tells POLICE Magazine.

"You don't have to go through that continuum," Williams said. "You use the force that you need at the time to safely make an arrest or control a situation. The officer is not required to engage in prolonged hand-to-hand combat."

The department had not field-tested the TASER devices, but issued a 181-page report on Jan. 20 with results of its investigation into the use of the devices. The report recommended using them.

The most recent 15 officer-involved shootings resulting in a death were analyzed, and the report determined that five of those could have been prevented had officers been carrying the stun guns.

During an interview with on Thursday morning, Mayor Gavin Newsom said he disagrees with the commission's decision and supports the police chief.

"I want to give him the tools to succeed, and unfortunately the commission decided against that last night," Newsom said. "The commission believes it's over for the moment. This is worth further debate."

Read the full SF Chronicle story.

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

swall @ 3/5/2010 6:21 AM

The Police Commission made a very poor judgement call by not allowing Taser use by their police officers. The comment that the Taser has not been field tested by the police department was just an excuse, because the Taser has a long history of saving lives, both suspects and police officers, and has been extensively studied by the IACP and other high level law enforcement policy making organizations. Because of the San Francisco Police Commission decision more police officers will be injured or killed. I hope they can bear that on their conscience. Thank you.

Sgt Stephen Wall

Coronado Police Department

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