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Police Commission to Discuss Controversial Plan to Arm SFPD Officer With Tasers

The issue takes on new urgency in the wake of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Mario Woods and Alex Nieto.

The San Francisco Police Commission on Wednesday night will once again take up the issue of arming officers with Tasers.

The issue takes on new urgency in the wake of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Mario Woods and Alex Nieto. San Francisco is one of the only large United States cities where officers are not given Tasers.

One of those debates is internally among members of the San Francisco Police Department.

Chief Greg Suhr would like a more limited Taser program, which would arm only specially-trained officers and require a call out.

But the San Francisco Police Officers Association said that policy does not go far enough. The union's plan would equip every single police officer with a Taser.

Use of Tasers was brought up almost immediately after Woods' death on Dec. 2. Suhr, Mayor Ed Lee and the city's Police Officer Association have all suggested that Woods -- who was shot and killed by five police officers while holding a knife in the city's Bayview District -- would still be alive today if those officers were equipped with Tasers.

"Rather than waiting for the SWAT team or specialists to arrive at the scene, these critical incidents unfold in split seconds," SFPOA President Marty Halloran said. "You don't always have the opportunity to stand back and contain an individual, and wait for the SWAT team to show up."

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi is against Tasers. He thinks the focus should be on de-escalation techniques and not about adding another weapon.

"This policy change should focus on use of force and not introducing another weapon that has been proven to be unsafe," Adachi said.

A series of community meetings around the city to discuss the topic of use of force is also planned to follow Wednesday's police commission meeting.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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