Police Commission votes to allow department to study use of Tasers 

The San Francisco Police Commission voted 6-1 Wednesday night to allow the Police Department to look into the use of Tasers by officers, nearly a year after shooting down a similar proposal.

The decision came after a lively six-hour debate regarding the conducted energy devices, widely known as Tasers.

Last March, the commission voted 4-3 against a proposal by then-Police Chief George Gascon to study the use of Tasers by the department.

Three new members have been appointed to the commission since then, and interim Police Chief Jeff Godown, who took over as The City’s top cop when Gascon was named district attorney last month, was hopeful that the commission’s new makeup would result in a different approach to the Taser issue.

In the commission chambers, the Police Department reenacted a typical scenario that would require the use of a Taser, while other officers recounted dangerous incidents in which the devices could have helped take suspects into custody.

An opposing presentation, organized by Commissioner Angela Chan, had several experts outline the dangers of the less-than-lethal devices, which provide an electrical charge that they said can still cause serious injury or death and are frequently used unnecessarily.

Godown said the department would take a “thoughtful approach” to studying the use of Tasers and agreed to return to the commission to report its findings within 90 days.

Police Cmdr. David Mahoney, who led the police presentation in favor of the devices, said that Tasers “are not a replacement for a firearm,” but are “simply another tool in the toolbox” that officers can use when confronted with dangerous situations.

San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey said the Sheriff’s Department has been using Tasers since 2002 and has “found them to be very effective.”

Cristine Soto DeBerry, representing Mayor Ed Lee, said the mayor also supported allowing the Police Department to study the issue.

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