Image via Roxie Theater

San Francisco Police Department officers will not be using Tasers, at least not for another year.

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday agreed to remove the $1 million set-aside for Tasers in Mayor London Breed’s budget proposal, effectively stalling the implementation of the electroshock weapons until funding is proposed in future budget seasons.

“I think all five of us were willing to sweep that money because of the four Taser-related deaths in San Mateo in a year and a half,” Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer told Mission Local following the decision.

Three unarmed men with a history of mental illness did, indeed, die after being shocked with the stun guns last year, and one man was shot and killed last December after a Taser failed to subdue him.

Fewer, who chairs the committee, also attributed the board’s decision to the overwhelming 2018 defeat of Proposition H, which asked voters to approve the police department’s use of Tasers, but would have limited how they would be regulated.

The defeat “showed that San Franciscans really think that we should be going in a different direction than Tasers,” she said.

The Police Commission, which sets the police department’s policy, approved Tasers in November 2017 in a contentious 4-3 vote following an emotional six-hour meeting.  

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.

Per the terms of the approval, the SFPD was set to arm its officers one year later. But the Budget and Finance Committee, taking Fewer’s lead, last year blocked the department’s $3 million funding request, putting a damper on the department’s plans.

A similar action occurred at the committee on Thursday, with the $1 million yanked from Tasers now slated to be swept into the board’s so-called “add-back” fund — $30 million or more for additional requests originally excluded from the budget.

Police Commission President Bob Hirsch, who voted in favor of Tasers in 2017, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he likely isn’t happy about Thursday’s outcome.

“We did a tremendous amount of work leading up to that vote,” he told Mission Local in an email on Monday. “If the elected officials did not want Tasers, why put us all through this protracted and contentious exercise?”  

The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to questions about the outcome. But Chief Bill Scott said during the hearing that, “We want to move forward with electronic control weapons [Tasers].”

He noted that the department’s use of the weapons was among the 272 reform recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice and reiterated that the Police Commission had approved their use.

During a May 8 Police Commission meeting, Scott said that the department was far along in setting up the “infrastructure” to implement Tasers, such as establishing a review board and physical places to store the weapons at district stations.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who also sits on the Budget and Finance Committee, told Scott during the hearing that she believes the department is making progress in other areas, such as lowering its use-of-force by some 30 percent, reducing police shootings, and using “time and distance” to deal with subjects in crisis.

Given the progress, she said, “I believe that introducing a new weapon that’s increasingly problematic … is dangerous and would set a tremendous gain that you have made backward.”

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5 Comments

  1. Campers,

    The problem is the people the SFPD hires!

    They take on ‘lateral’ hires who have shot people in other departments.

    Two of the 5 cops who shot Mario Woods were laterals who had shot people
    at their previous jobs.

    Back off and look at the big picture.

    SFPD recruiting for decades has chosen thugs first.

    It’s not as bad as it used to be.

    But, the thugs hired because they are thugs in the past?

    Now, they are the steroid looking monster motorcycle cops
    who harass skinny techie female cyclist on Valencia while
    trailing big Trump-like American flags behind their machines.

    Complain?

    They have smaller flags in their bags for inspection.

    We need to get rid of these thugs by attrition and exchange
    a thousand of them for Patrol Specials like Jane Warner.

    Who, they harassed on her death bed.

    No, I’m not sympathetic to these SF value haters with
    guns and badges led by Gary Delugnuts.

    Wait.

    Didn’t he resign or get fired for the umpteenth time recently?

    His offspring abound.

    Go Giants!

    h.

    1. Why do our supervisors think they know more about everything than all other elected officials in the :United States? We remain the only major city in the United States that doesn’t give tasers to the police. Yes, there have been a few injuries and deaths. But overall, Tasers save lives. It’s past time for our extreme left-wingers to wake up and legislate and regulate based on common sense and best practices rather than solely on their extreme left-wing ideology.

    2. You have no idea what you are talking about. I just finished doing a research study on the SFPD and they hire more recruits and LATERALS with four year college degrees, and yes the did hire very small percentage of officers who had been involved in an OIS (less that 1%). I would suggest you back up your wild claims with some sort of proof.

  2. Congratulations to London Breed and Sandra Fewer for turning this down. Money is a problem but so is the fact that the SFPD has too much on their plate right now to deal with tasers. They need “time and distance” from tasers to finish the task of training 2,000 cops in de-escalation techniques, a class, unfortunately, occurring once a month. This waiting period is also necessary for the community to experience and believe there has been a willing withdrawal from the way they have been trained to police and absolute removal of the tragic inherent racism of some number of members.

    1. 2/10 of a second is not enough time to “de-escalate” You want something “inherent”…Okay…..62,000 police officers were assaulted last year.

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