Tasers approved for SFPD by police commission in 4-3 vote

- In a late night 4-3 vote, the San Francisco Police Commission authorized Tasers as use of force for the San Francisco Police Department. The option will be implemented in December 2018.

A group of protesters did not take the news well and shouted "Shame!" inside City Hall. 

It was a raucous public comment period Friday evening at City Hall with the expected vote on whether or not the San Francisco Police Department should be armed with Tasers seeing delays. 

Protesters refused to leave the chambers after the San Francisco Police Commission president ordered the room cleared when a woman giving her comment apparently refused to stop speaking. 

Protesters outside the room could be heard chanting, "let us in!"

Moments earlier, a room full of people could be heard shouting "let her talk" in unison, referring to the woman who wouldn't stop speaking. 

More than 40 people showed up for the public meeting to have their voices heard. 

Despite public opposition, the San Francisco Police Department is considering adopting Tasers, and a police commander today noted that a city budget analyst has pegged the cost at around $8 million.

Cmdr. Pete Walsh took questions this afternoon from reporters about the proposed Tasers, in advance of a public meeting to be held this evening on the issue.

"[San Francisco Police Chief William Scott] states in coming from the Los Angeles Police Department that CEDs can be an effective use of force in situations that warrant intermediate use of force," Walsh said during the news conference.

CED is the acronym for Conducted Energy Devices, the technical term for Tasers. The LAPD uses Tasers, as do the police departments of most major cities in the United States, including Richmond and Oakland.

"We are one of two major cities that don't have CEDs," Walsh said. The other city is Boston.

The police commander said that Axon - the new name of the company formerly named "Taser" - makes a holster that activates the officer's body camera when the Taser is pulled out of the holster. He was responding to a reporter's question about what safeguards exist to make sure Tasers aren't misused.

While Chief Scott argues the equipment would help reduce injuries to officers and suspects alike, opponents say CED's (Tasers) are deadly and would be used disproportionately on the homeless, people of color and the mentally ill. 

Asked about the cost, Walsh said, "We have not nailed down a firm cost. The only cost analysis I have seen from beginning to end - and we do have some disagreements - is the budget analysis from the Board of Supervisors," at around $8 million.

"We believe it's lower," Walsh said.

A reporter asked how the Police Department plans to get past the fact that 87 percent of the people who attended two public meetings the department hosted in September on the subject opposed the idea. Walsh said in response, "They (meeting attendees) are intelligent and organized and they have read a lot of literature. Their opposition is not as well-grounded when it comes to statistics."

The commander added, "The breadth of surveys show it reduces injuries to suspects and officers."

One expert, a retired Oakland police officer said after months of research, he has not found any definitive study on the effectiveness of Tasers. 

Community members had concerns about public safety on how the weapons would be used. 

"Police need to be trained in a completely different direction to de-escalate and not point and shoot," said Jennifer Beach with the group, Showing Up for Racial Justice SF chapter. 

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