EXCLUSIVE: SFPD taser decision to be made Friday, officials support it

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Friday, the San Francisco police commission will be taking one of its biggest and most controversial votes -- a yes or no on allowing its officers to have tasers.

RELATED: San Francisco police commission discusses taser usage for officers

Three former police chiefs have asked for CED's or conducted energy devices, more commonly known as tasers.

Heather Fong, George Gascon, and Greg Shur saw the item dropped or failed each time largely due to opposition from activist groups.

Now, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott is making his case.

When asked if he supported the use of tasers, Scott said, "I do. I've seen the good in having the ability to have the option, the less lethal option, which is a good thing."

Tasers are also one of the justice department's 272 recommendations that the SFPD is trying to implement.

"The use of a CED lowers officer injury rates," said Commander Peter Walsh of the SFPD. "It also lowers injury rates of suspects. It is the most studied piece of police equipment ever... we're getting as close to a policy that we think will work and help us mitigate some of the concerns people have."

Namely, concerns that the less lethal weapon will be used disproportionately against the most vulnerable. Among them are minorities and the homeless.

Dayton Andrews is with the coalition on homelessness, which opposes tasers. "We believe the priorities should be in building trust and a lot of that come with different techniques such as community policing, time, distance, and de-escalation," he said.

Walsh says his officers have undergone intensive use of force training in crisis intervention and de-escalation if those techniques don't work.

"The question then becomes, what is the safest way to take this person into custody," said Walsh. "This (the taser) may be that option."

He added that each officer will be thuroughly trained in the use of the device.

"Not only are we training to what the device is supposed to be used for, but when we can use it," Walsh told ABC7 News.

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