Police gear up for round two on Tasers

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On February 4, the San Francisco Police Commission will hold the second of three planned community meetings to gauge support for a pilot program to arm 100 SFPD officers with Tasers. The controversial proposal pits police Chief Greg Suhr, a proponent, against civil liberties organizations and homeless advocates who are mobilizing public opposition to the Taser initiative. 

Shortly after being appointed police chief in 2011, Suhr said arming the SFPD with Tasers would not be a top priority. But following the police shooting of a mentally ill man last July, Suhr has pushed the Police Commission to allow members of the cities Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)—who receive special training to deal with the mentally ill—to carry Tasers.

Since the shooting, Suhr has repeatedly argued that Tasers would help save lives and reduce instances of gun use. "You do have to have as many tools in the tool box before you go to guns," he said at the first community forum.

The ACLU and local homeless advocates disagree.

“Every time there is an officer-involved shooting, the department uses it as an excuse to outfit officers with Tasers,” ACLU attorney Micaela Davis told the Guardian. “We continue to believe that Tasers are not a good alternative to firearms and we fear that officers run the risk of going to Tasers too early in a confrontation instead of using de-escalation techniques.”

Equipping CIT officers with Tasers would inject the controversial stun guns into already tense confrontations between the mentally ill and the SFPD.

Lisa Marie Alatorre, an organizer with the San Francisco Homelessness Coalition, argues Tasers could have a devastating effect on the city’s homeless population. “The CIT typically deals with people in crisis, people who are mentally ill, and people who are currently destitute and have nowhere to live,” she told the Guardian. “The use of Tasers in the midst of a crisis will cause severe trauma and could inflict significant psychological damage.”

Both the Coalition on Homelessness and the ACLU charge that the SFPD has dragged its feet in implementing the nonviolent components of the CIT program. Less than 75 officers have been trained in nonviolent confrontational strategies since the program’s adoption last summer, and Alatorre charges SFPD has yet to implement protocols that would bring the program to fruition.

Police Commissioner Angela Chan, a longtime proponent of the CIT program, echoed these concerns. “We need to improve our de-escalation tactics with regards to crisis intervention. Many of the steps to train and implement CIT have not yet been implemented and that’s where we need to focus our energies,” she told the Guardian.

Despite strong local opposition to Tasers, they are becoming standard equipment for police departments across the nation. SFPD officers are hopeful that public opposition does not kill this pilot program, like similar attempts before it.

Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a spokesperson with the SFPD, argued that equipping CIT officers with Tasers would give police more flexibility to use force without engaging their firearms.

“On the street, not every situation can be managed in a nonviolent fashion,” he told the Guardian. “CIT is a great program, and the implementation of Tasers would give those officers an additional tool to use before they have to escalate to deadly force.”

Police commissioners will make a final decision about Tasers after the third community meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 11 at the Bayview Opera House.

The next community forum on the SFPD Taser pilot program will be held on Feb. 4 from 6-8pm at the Scottish Rite Center, 2850 19th Ave, in SF.  

Comments

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

Can someone please tell me how a 120 LB. female officer can stop a 200 LB. man who is either high, mentally unstable, or just plain pissed off and has a weapon (knife, bat, pipe, etc.) without a taser or shooting him? No one who is against tasers has ever been able to REASONABLY answer that. I have heard the following though:

Use pepper spray. - Pepper spray doesn't work on all individuals. People who have been sprayed before (like ex-convicts) aren't affected as much. Even if a person is sprayed, they can still flail around and grab you. Pepper spray HURTS, but doesn't always stop you. Police officers are taught to be able to keep fighting through pepper spray.

Baton - Do you know how much force is needed on a wrist or hand in order to make someone drop a weapon? Enough to break bone. And I'd take a 200 LB. man with a bat against a 120 LB. woman with a baton nearly every day of the week.

Don't police have martial arts training? Can't they use wrist locks or throws or something? - You've been watching too many movies dude.

Talk them down - That should always be the first option. But as much as you don't think so, some people won't (or can't) listen. This includes some mentally ill people. If they were sane, they wouldn't be attacking people in the first place, would they?

Wait for backup and swarm the person - You've never been in a fight have you? If someone has a knife, that person can do a lot of damage to the guy who gets closest first. And that is assuming that backup arrives before the guy decides to attack someone else. What then? Wait while he attacks someone else?

Do tasers have the possibility of misuse? Of course. So do their cars, guns, batons, pepper spray, and fists. There is a reason why every single major police department in the country (except Memphis) is equipped with tasers. Stopping a violent suspect isn't pretty but using a gun stops them permanently.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

NO to tasers. No matter how many times they try to ram it through here for their agenda.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

What a progressive slogan that is.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

The same guys who beat people up over fajitas now want tasers to help them do it?
Let's have some common sense here. When SFPD starts behaving in a professional manner, then we can talk.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 10:14 am

Do you think that we're getting our half a billion dollars worth of annual policing from the SFPD and their $300K+ chief? Really?

We have a spending problem with the SFPD, not a revenue problem.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 10:29 am

The rest comes way down the list.

Even so, we spend much less in relative terms that Oakland, where 75% of their budget goes on OPD and OFD.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

Jobs are the #1 priority.
The America Cup is the #1 priority.
The Central Subway is the #1 priority.
Building new housing is the #1 priority.
Enforcing Ethics laws is the #1 priority.
Getting the Superbowl and Olympics are the #1 priority.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

represents a failure on their part to address "more important issues."

Not surprisingly, the same false notion that two things cannot occupy the concern of government at one time is never brought up when numerous "moderate" programs are in the offing -- in fact, they can all be *number* *one* *priorities!*

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 11:59 am

law by saying it would distract the police from enforcing more important laws elsewhere.

"blah blah blah big lie blah blah something I overheard at the coffee shop"

Posted by matlock on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 1:40 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

So you think Campos had a point? As usual you make no sense.

In context you are saying that it's a poor argument to say that government can't do multiple things, some important some not, including legislating around happy meals because a supervisor can't parent.

Campos said that the police force is too stupid to prioritize. Weiner's law was bad according to progressive leader Campos because cops might be ticketing nakid while occupy types are smashing windows down Valencia.

Campos was making the exact argument you bemoan in others.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

I actually wanted a reason to belabor the point -- and you -- a little bit more.

The fact is that supervisors set the budget for the police department and when considering each piece of legislation they have the *responsibility* to assess how its enforcement will affect the balance of other laws; Campos and his fellow supervisors are *supposed* to prioritize the police force.

By objecting to the nudity ban based on its potential added demands on police services. Campos was acting on the unremarkably obvious. (Similar, in a way to me responding to your drivel.)

Are there unsolved robberies? Rapes? Murders? We've heard a recent story here of an assault that went uninvestigated, even though there were plenty of leads and opportunity to catch the culprit.

Campos did not say we shouldn't prohibit nudity because it would interfere with an airport expansion or an attempt to get a basketball team for the city -- *that* would be a truly equivalent bit of nonsense; the kind of crap so-called "moderates" are always trying to pull.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

You should not get away with robbery just because murder is a worse crime.

modern policing methods understand the broken window theory and that zero tolerance for any cimes, reduces all crimes.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

running around naked *and* throwing bricks through your windows.

Good point. The human body disgusts me anyhow.

Posted by blip in sail cull on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

then they become enboldened and double down. Slippery slope and all - best to nip it in the bud with zero tolerance.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

There are plenty of laws that don't go enforced, enforcing nudity is not zero tolerance. Zero tolerance would put too many people in jail, those sometimes-y "crimes" are used for discretionary enforcement purposes only.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

the stirring of coffee in a counter-clockwise direction and it was not enforced, we'd have a crime wave. (That goes without saying, doesn't it?)

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

Tell it to HSBC--to big to jail. Tip of the iceberg.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

all day writing inane comments - most of which claim other commenters have "cooties?"

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

and crazy rationalization.

you complained that people make weird arguments around government priorities, then you say that people you agree with do it too, but it is OK because the people you agree with, agree with you.

So it's bad not to agree with you, but it is OK to agree with you, because agreeing with you and your priorities is OK.????

This must be that nuance thing.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 04, 2013 @ 2:47 am

A "weird argument around government priorities" is to claim that an initiative to rename the airport after a much-celebrated local hero and martyr will inhibit the maintenance of the streets and other public infrastructure; or the fight against crime; or any other problem that there is a government agency set up to deal with on an ongoing basis.

But that's not all.

It is *also* a weird argument to suppose that adding public nudity to the list of acts which qualify for police attention will not affect police work load and the level of enforcement of other acts which have a greater basis for being made illegal.

There's absolutely *NO* nuance about it.

It is a "moderate" thing.

"Moderates," for the most part, are not moderate at all, but are actually reactionary twits trying to be clever.

Based on your apparent level of ability, matlock, you really ought to try some other tack -- or maybe another forum altogether.

How about Freep?

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 04, 2013 @ 8:34 am

Rhetoric is often so comical.

"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos " H Simpson.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

Who wouldn't want to build a ray gun to aim at a planet they've never even heard of?

Posted by marcos on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

Kodos would have made abortions for all the #1 priority.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 04, 2013 @ 6:58 am

So your justification for not giving SFPD tasers is an incident involving 3 off-duty cops (who, btw, are no longer with the department) from a decade ago?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

Some white liberals really hate the police. It's a fashion statement in some leftist circles.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

How's that for justification? Cops with multiple weapons are clearly not mature enough to know which one they're reaching for. Better that they understand that when they reach for a weapon, it's lethal.

In any case, tasers *are* lethal, even when used correctly. And that's another thing that troubles me -that the cops keep insisting that they're not, when in fact multiple deaths have now been attributed to them.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

"Cops with multiple weapons are clearly not mature enough to know which one they're reaching for." Careful greg, your hatred of cops is showing.

In rare instances, yes, tasers can kill. But you know what's almost always lethal? A .40 round to the chest.

And yet you still can't say what a 120 LB. woman is supposed to do against a 200 LB. man with a knife without a taser short of turning to her gun.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

The problem with tasers is that when cops have them, they become a first resort rather than a last resort. Time and time again, they're used unnecessarily when mere talking could've diffused the situation. Often with lethal results.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 2:46 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

Bloodthirsty troll.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

right from the start I don't want cops able to zap me like some ranchers zapping their cows.

Cops have to use force sometimes, but it leaves a mark (generally speaking, since there are some nasty tricks some cops use) and has to be justified.

Tasers will be far too apealing to cops who may be lazy or overly interested in taking the course of least personal hazard to themselves despite serious deleterious effects on the civil rights of others.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

I think the lethal aspect may be the best angle to oppose tasers on a political level. Cops will (and already do) resort to tasers when putting in a little more effort into talking down the situation could've worked. Because why put in the effort when you can just zap? Using guns is much more serious -cop is going to have to go fill out paperwork and justify use of a gun. And even though it's true that the courts virtually always side with the cop, it's still a hassle... and a cop who shoots someone every other day is probably going to get a stern talking-to. But a taser carries no such weight. The justification for using a taser can be... well, anything. So in the end, tasers become overused, and more people get injured or killed than otherwise would have.

However... there is another aspect of this. This isn't provable -just a hunch -but I think a lot of cops want an extra tool in order to cause pain, because they enjoy inflicting pain, in the same way that they enjoy using their authority to bully. The minds of many of the cops I've met seem to work not much differently than the thugs they're supposed to be protecting us from. I think similar personalities are drawn to cop life as thug life. Perhaps not *all* cops, but certainly more than the proverbial "few bad apples." There's no denying a certain sadistic streak among a segment of the cop population. And I'm not comfortable giving them another outlet for their sadistic tendencies.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 10:32 am

reasons -- and I will stipulate that it is a majority -- have within themselves a capacity to do wrong. There have been famous studies.

It all relates to Lord Acton's admonition.

When previously I made a remark about how one of the important dangers cops faced in their daily work was the tendency to become jaded towards their fellow men over time, I was only being half-heartedly facetious.

I've personally seen how some older cops even long after retirement have a bizarre tendency to impute all sorts of criminal intentions and backgrounds to people based soley on a momentary visual evaluation.

But then there are indeed the "bad apples"; and just as in many other fields of authority and responsibility over others -- i.e. potential victims -- police work *attracts* them.

Sad truth which should not detract substantially from cops who are basically good men and women and perform their duties honorably and sometimes heroically.

I met Mehserle's dad, a sailor who was criticized by some for using a large sailboat to hold banners in counter-protest in favor of his son in Mission Creek during Giants games, and I was impressed by his humility and the pathos on his side of the murder; though I supposed at the time it might also have been the well-acted performance by someone who's been schooled by top-flight PR experts which I was taken by.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 11:53 am

If you want a poster child for police brutality, try and find one who wasn't drugged up and who didn't have 12 convictions.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

offenses carried the death penalty, and he complied with whatever penalties the state gave him. How do his previous problems have any bearing on what happened to him on that BART platform?

His murder by the BART police is a good example of why police shouldn't carry tasers. Mesherle's excuse was that he thought his pistol was his taser. If those cops didn't carry both types of weapons, he couldn't have made that mistake.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

BART train, he'd still be alive.

Oh wait, he would have been.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

I'll put it another way.

If you weren't posting comments here, you would still be stupid.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 5:03 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

oscar grant got what he deserved and Officer Mesherle is a hero. I personally sent his family a check for $5,000 and a letter signed by 63 LAW-ABIDING, TAXPAYING, AMERICAN CITIZENS thanking the BRAVE Officer for ridding the world of another piece of garbage.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 10:36 am

Mesherle is a criminal.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 10:53 am

There's a reason he got a light sentence. If he had shot a nun or choirboy, the result would have been very different. Justice isn't blind.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

The fact that a cop got prosecuted at all speaks to the gravity of the offense.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

And did he ever serve any jail time?

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

Plus however many he got away with.

Thug and felon.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

Don't you understand that Grant was a "budding rapper?" Def Jam was on the verge of signing a huge deal with him. Barring that he was definitely going to become an academic - he was at community college you know.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

the above Guest is a lowlife fascist swine. There is nothing "brave" about executing a defenseless person in handcuffs lying on the ground.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 03, 2013 @ 1:13 pm