S.F. Chief Drops Taser Expansion After 4-3 Police Panel Vote Against It


A day after the San Francisco Police Commission rejected his proposal to arm officers with Tasers, Chief George Gascón said he is giving up his push for the devices that he billed as a possible alternative to the use of deadly force, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The commission voted 4-3 not to give Gascón the go-ahead to develop guidelines under which officers could use the electronic stun guns, which would have been a first step toward adopting Tasers.

Opponents pointed to studies suggesting that the devices can kill people with heart conditions or even those who are otherwise healthy, and were skeptical of police promises that officers’ use of Tasers would be sharply restricted. Gascón, who had cited a study finding that as many as a third of 15 officer-involved shootings in a five-year period in San Francisco could have been avoided with Tasers, added: “Hopefully, there will not be any unfortunate incidents.” The Taser proposal was the first major policy initiative that Gascón had brought before the commission, which hired him on a unanimous vote last year on the recommendation of Mayor Gavin Newsom. Gascón cited research by the Police Executive Research Forum that found that police departments that adopted Tasers had dramatically lower rates of shootings and injuries than other departments. The commission also heard from two UCSF cardiology professors whose study of 50 police departments in California found that officer-involved shootings and deaths of suspects actually spiked during the first year of Taser deployment.

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