No Tasers for SFPD

    Dear Commissioners,

    I am writing to ask you to OPPOSE the deployment of Taser weapons on the streets of San Francisco. These weapons are deadly dangerous, and a distressing step back from SFPD’s move toward a 21st-Century policing focused on de-escalating tense situations and working with community members to prevent violence before it occurs.

    Tasers Kill

    An investigation by Reuters has revealed that over 1,000 people have been killed by police use of Tasers. Tasers are especially dangerous because, despite their lethality, their status as an “intermediate force option,” allows for officers to use them more often than guns. And so we saw, just last month, a man killed by police in Oakland after being Tased for fleeing a car crash. Should fleeing a car crash result in the death penalty?

    Tasers Hurt All of Us

    In his statement on Tasers, Chief Scott acknowledged that independent studies show Tasers are used disproportionately on people of color and those experiencing mental health crises. Unsurprisingly, these are the same groups that feel the brunt of all police violence. But even healthy and privileged groups are not immune. Kansas City Police Officer Matt Master’s 17-year-old son was Tased by police during a routine traffic stop and suffered devastating brain damage. If white, middle-class, sons of police officers are not immune from Taser violence, no one is. Ask yourself, are you comfortable with the idea of police using an electroshock weapon on your sons and daughters?

    There is No Oversight

    We’ve heard that studying Tasers are two of the 272 recommended reforms from the collaborative DOJ reform process. But the DOJ has now abandoned that process, and thus there is no timeline or plan for achieving the other 270 reforms, no oversight in place to ensure those reforms are adequately achieved, and no plan to delay Taser weapon deployment until those reforms, some of which call for major changes to use of force policies and data collection, are complete. Why are we rushing these weapons onto our streets without systems of accountability, or even basic data collection programs, in place?

    Let’s Re-focus on What Works

    When considering whether to spend millions on a new weapon system and the eventual lawsuits, remember that we have a shamefully low clearance rate for rape cases, and our 911 dispatch system is chronically underfunded, and the dispatchers chronically overworked. We should strive to make policing safer for both residents and police, but that safety can’t be built on the brain-damaged and electrocuted bodies of our most vulnerable residents, and it shouldn't come at the expense of pressing criminal justice needs. Let’s instead recommit to the de-escalation and crisis intervention training already in progress, and already showing promise.

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