SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It was a long night Wednesday at the seven-member San Francisco Police Commission meeting held at City Hall. The vote came down to 6 to 1 with the commissioners approving a Taser policy after grappling with the wording and details along with SFPD's chief.
San Francisco is poised to join most major U.S. cities in arming their police officers with Tasers. The Commission initially approved use of Conducted Energy Devices (CED) more commonly referred to as Tasers last November.
"Finally...finally," exclaimed Joe Marshall. At 14 years, he's the longest serving police commissioner. He says he voted for the Tasers and he's ready to put guidelines in place so officers can have the options of using them.
"They're scheduled to come into use the end of this year, but we have to have a policy to govern its use," said Marshall.
The meeting focused on how to best use Tasers in as safe a manner as possible.
"Officers are trained to understand what level of force. It's not just a Taser policy we're talking...proportionality, which is a fundamental of what we're about. We want the force to be proportionate to the action used by the person that the force is used against," said SFPD Chief William Scott.
Martin Halloran, the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA), says the debate over whether to arm officers with Tasers has been going on for 10 years under the direction of four police chiefs and that's why he's backing Proposition H on the June ballot. If approved by voters, it would put Tasers in the hands of officers sooner and with fewer restrictions.
In a statement, Halloran said, "Policing numbers indicate that 78% of San Francisco voters want SFPD officers to be equipped with less lethal weapons. The SFPOA is committed to working with the Police Commission to insure this policy is enacted. But Taser opponents say any policy should prohibit police from using the weapon on vulnerable populations.
Taser opponents said any policy should prohibit police from using the weapons on vulnerable populations.
A woman took to the podium and said pregnant women who may be 'tased' risk the death of their fetus. "Really frail people, children, psych meds elderly folks with psychiatric medications, those medications when interacted with a Taser can cause heart failure,"
Another woman spoke during public comment saying, "These calm discussions of torturing our people that we act like this is intelligent and calm when we're talking about torture. I'm just appalled at the way that humans interact with each other.
It's unclear when police would receive training, but according to police officials, the goal is by the end of year. SFPD says they will work with the police officer's union and Police Commission to adhere to the policies.
KTVU reporter Amber Lee contributed to this report