San Francisco officials embark on exhaustive meeting to decide on police taser use

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Police Commission has just begun what's expected to be a marathon meeting ending with a vote on the use of tasers. Public opposition has always been strong, despite support by the top brass.

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The industry calls tasers, CEDs or Conducted Energy Devices.

When the Mario Woods shooting occurred, critics were quick to point out his death may have been avoided if police had been armed with tasers.

Police Commissioner Joe Marshall has always supported them. "Well, my rationale at that time is that better than the bullet, better than the gun."

He and six other commissioners have studied report after report done on these devices.

San Francisco is once again considering arming police with tasers because it's one of the recommendations given to the city by the Department of Justice on ways to improve the SFPD.

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"The breath of studies show it reduces suspect injuries and it also reduces injuries to officers," said SFPD Lt. Commander Peter Walsh.

If San Francisco Police are allowed to use tasers it would cost $8 million to purchase the devices and train officers. That's according to a budget analysis done by the board of supervisors.

The police department estimates it would be less than that.

Some police departments require that every officer not only be trained, but feel the effects of the electroshock weapon. SF police say officers would do it on a volunteer basis.

But Jennifer Friedenbach of the homeless coalition is concerned they will b e used disproportionately on people of color and the homeless. "It is a torture device," she said. "And it's incredibly painful to be tased."

Marshall told ABC7 News that tonight's vote will be close.

Oakland, Richmond, and Los Angeles police already have these devices.

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