A hearing on police reform that was supposed to focus on the 272 recommendations the Department of Justice has given the city today wound up focusing to a great extent on the use of Tasers.
Both Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Sandra Lee Fewer urged Chief William Scott to slow down the discussion of adding the electric zap guns to the local police arsenal. “Until we have addressed the training, the culture, and the bias, it’s not good to escalate with another weapon,” Fewer said.
She noted that the Taser company now includes eight pages of warnings about the stun guns, including advice not to shoot people who are pregnant, mentally ill, or have a low basal metabolic rate. Officers in many cases can’t tell whether people fall into those categories.
Tasers, as Fewer pointed out, are not “nonlethal” weapons. They are, at best, “less lethal.”
“I think it’s prudent to work on other issues,” she said.
Ronen argued that, at a time when the city is working hard on implementing a new Use of Force policy, adding Tasers will undermine that progress.
A speaker from the Bar Association of San Francisco testified that the agency has voted unanimously to oppose Tasers for SF cops.
Barbara Attard, former police auditor for San Jose, noted that “
There’s a lot still to do: The department has only implemented 81 of the recommendations, and the DOJ under Trump has withdrawn from its oversight role.
And yet, Scott is asking the Police Commission (once again) to authorize the purchase and use of Tasers, and the issue will come up again in October. We will keep you posted.