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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Police Commish Jim Hammer Says He's No David Campos Stooge

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM

click to enlarge A dangerous hand-held device
  • A dangerous hand-held device
Police Commissioner Jim Hammer has so far maintained a studied silence on the subject of texts 'n' TASERs. For those of you who don't follow the All My Childrenesque twists and turns of City Hall's daily news cycle, Hammer was at the center of a dust-up during the past two weeks over whether he was improperly influenced -- via text messages on his cell phone -- to vote against a proposal to equip San Francisco police officers with TASER stun-guns.

News reports have noted that Hammer, a former prosecutor, reversed his public support for TASERs during the course of a police commission meeting and cast the swing vote against them -- even after appearing alongside Police Chief George Gascon in a pro-TASER press conference earlier. Supervisor David Campos said after the decision that he had sent text messages to Hammer urging him reject the TASER plan, leading Mayor Gavin Newsom himself to call for limits on on public officials' texting during meetings.

We caught up with Hammer yesterday, who -- surprise -- rejected outright the idea that Campos had put the arm on him. He did remind us, however, of an interesting piece of context that has so far been left out of media coverage of the texting kerfuffle: Campos was the one supervisor on the Rules Committee to vote against Hammer's appointment to the police commission. Does it really make sense that Hammer would act as his pawn once in office?

"He sent me several text messages critical of my position being open to TASERs, which did not affect my vote," Hammer told SF Weekly. (He said it was medical data presented during the hearing that changed his mind.) "He is the only person on the Rules Committee to have opposed my appointment. The idea that I would obey his commands is laughable."

Hammer said he did not save any of Campos' messages. Campos told us that Hammer and David Onek were the only commission members to whom he sent texts on the TASER issue. Sunshine activist Kimo Crossman obtained the texts to Onek from the police commission via a public-records request. Here they are:

Campos text: "David. I respectfully but most emphatically disagree with your comments tonight. You may know the literature better than other commissioners but you miss the point of what it means to a community for you guys to vote on this tonight. It's very disappointing."

Onek's response, sent the next day: "Hi David. I respectfully disagree with you. I am not sure if you watched the whole hearing or have all the facts. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns -- it would be good to catch up generally anyway. Please let me know if you have the time and would like to meet."

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Peter Jamison

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