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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SFPD Chief Mounts Media Blitz for TASER Use

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 1:35 PM


San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon mounted a full public relations offensive in his efforts to obtain TASER electric-shock devices for his officers today, putting on a press conference with the support of several members of the Police Commission and floating a pro-TASER video on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. (See above.)

Standing with three police commissioners -- Joe Marshall, James Hammer, and Thomas Mazzucco -- at his back, Gascon urged the commission as a whole to approve the use of TASERs (also known as "conducted electricity devices, or CEDs) in San Francisco, where officers are not currently allowed to carry them.

Gascon was visibly frustrated at times during his talk over the commission's foot-dragging on the issue, calling it "unconscionable" and "negligent" that cops in San Francisco are not equipped with TASERs. "This is like going out in the community and asking for permission to use cars, because we're still riding horses," he said.

click to enlarge Police Commission President Joe Marshall (center) supports SFPD Chief George Gascon (far left) on the use of TASERs
  • Police Commission President Joe Marshall (center) supports SFPD Chief George Gascon (far left) on the use of TASERs

During the media briefing, Gascon argued that complaints of TASERs' lethality have been overstated, and that most people who die as a result of the electric shock delivered by the devices already have heart problems. "These are people who probably, if you asked them to run around the block, would have cardiac arrest," he said.

Amnesty International is one group that has opposed the use of TASERs as currently practiced, casting doubts on how safe the weapons are.

Gascon also said that TASERs would result in a drop in injuries to both police officers and suspects involved in fights, reducing the $2.25 million the city currently pays in medical claims for injured officers alone.

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Peter Jamison

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