San Francisco voters will decide in June whether to equip the San Francisco Police Department with an arsenal of Conductive Electrical Devices (CEDs), commonly known as tasers. But the S.F. Police Commission doesn’t want to wait until June, and the San Francisco Examiner reports their newly submitted annual budget makes a request for $3.5 million in tasers and taser-related costs.
That $3.5 million is a tiny drop in the department’s overall proposed $623 million budget. But it is little shocking that the commission is asking for the weapons prior to voter approval of the taser measure.
The S.F. Police Commission — the very same commission that’s requesting these CEDs — approved the use of tasers in a November vote, though community opposition to the devices has been strong for months.
Whether tasers are humane or exceptionally cruel depends on who you ask. San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott has called for tasers and CED training for all officers, “equipment that allows us to prevent escalation and in the process deescalate force.”
But tasers are no cure-all, particularly in light of a fatal Daly City incident last month in which Daly City police killed a suspect with their CED. Tasers can still cause severe injuries or death.
“Instead of buying a new toy, that money could be invested in things that would free up the police to address crime such as expanding public health resources to respond appropriately to people in psychiatric crisis,” executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness Jennifer Friedenbach told the Examiner.
The difference between this budget request and the June ballot measure is significant. The budget asks for $3.5 million is in tasers and taser training, while the ballot measure asks for $8 million. A new mayor will be elected in that June 5 primary, and candidates are split on their support of the CEDs.
The June ballot measure in favor of tasers is sponsored by the San Francisco Police Officers Association, which is the official name of the local police union.