San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr once called equipping his officers with Tasers a "moral obligation."
That was in 2012, and at the hands of the Supervisors Public Safety Committee he was the third in his position to be denied the so-called imperative.
Then came the SFPD shooting of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old Black man who was fired on and killed by multiple officers in the Bayview after attempts to subdue him with bean bag guns were insufficient in SFPD's estimation. Now, the Chronicle has it that Suhr is again calling for a discussion and implementation of Tasers. Has he he found his moment?
"This is all they could do," Suhr had previously said of his officers' shooting of Woods. "I really don’t know how much more you can make it plain to a wanted felon that he should drop the knife.” But now the Chief might be seen as amending that statement, adding that “I’m not saying that Tasers would be effective in every situation, but it would be a lot better if officers had more than just the choice between beanbags and bullets."
Most recently, Suhr dropped a Taser proposal in 2013 that came, as he saw it, with too many restrictions. There were in fact so many that they would have put, in his words, "so much pause in the minds of the officers that it would actually put them and the public more at risk."
Public Defender Jeff Adachi remains a staunch opponent of Tasers as weapons for SFPD officers. “The problem is a certain percentage of people — say, with heart conditions — might die. Are we willing to take that risk?” he said.
His idea? Give SFPD shields instead.
“I’ll tell you this,” said Suhr, who is reportedly considering a push for a ballot measure to equip his men and women with Tasers if he can't find access through another avenue. “I’d much rather be having a discussion about whether we used a Taser properly in the Bayview than talking about why we had to use guns.”
In conclusion, said Suhr: "It could have ended differently if we had Tasers."