SF Police Commission to vote on use of force policy

The San Francisco Police Commission is set to vote on a use of force policy for the department on Wednesday evening.

The change in policy comes months after a string of officer-involved shootings, public backlash, and the resignation of the police chief.

The commission will be voting on one of two use of force proposals.

One version, crafted by groups such as the Office of Citizen Complaints and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) include strict language when it comes to officers communicating and de-escalating situations with someone who is noncompliant. The second version, based on suggestions from the SF Police Officers Association, includes language to address a variety of situations that are not always cut and dry.

Both versions ultimately require officers to focus more on the escalating situations using crisis intervention training rather than reaching for their gun first.

The changes come after the shooting death of stabbing suspect Mario Woods in the Bayview District on December 2, 2015. Five San Francisco police officers fired at least 20 bullets at Woods, calling into question the department’s use of force policy.

In April 2016, officers shot and killed Luis Gongora within seconds of arriving on the scene in the Mission District. Police said the homeless man refused commands to drop a knife.

On April 21 a hunger strike began where five activists known as the ‘Frisco Five’ survived 17 days without solid food. They demanded Mayor Ed Lee fire Police Chief Greg Suhr over those incidents as well as previous shootings.

In May 2016, a police sergeant shot and killed Jessica Williams, a stolen car suspect, in the Bayview District. Within hours of the shooting, the mayor announced Suhr's resignation as chief of police.

Interim Chief Toney Chaplin took over as head of the department as talks continued over how to change the department’s use of force policy.