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Breed backs police Tasers in conflict with progressive mayoral candidates

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Supervisor London Breed has said she will support efforts to arm San Francisco police officers with Tasers, a position that puts her at odds with her more progressive opponents in the June mayor’s race. (Wesaam Al-Badry/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Board of Supervisors President London Breed and her progressive challengers in the mayor’s race are at odds over whether arming police with Tasers is the right move to prevent another controversial police shooting in San Francisco.

Breed, who has positioned herself as an advocate for police reform, said Thursday she would support and fund the monitored use of Tasers in the San Francisco Police Department as mayor.

“With all I’ve seen and experienced in my life, I HATE GUNS,” Breed wrote in a Medium post. “I hate guns. If tasers — with thorough training and oversight — can stop one shooting, then I support tasers.”

Breed is in conflict on the issue with Supervisor Jane Kim and former State Sen. Mark Leno, who recently told the San Francisco Examiner he disagreed with the Police Commission’s vote last November in support of Tasers.

“I believe we need to implement the reforms provided by the Department of Justice to pursue de-escalation training before we consider issuing any new weapons,” Leno said.

The Police Commission voted in favor of implementing Tasers as soon as the end of this year after the U.S. Department of Justice said the SFPD should strongly consider using the devices. The DOJ launched a review of the SFPD in early 2016 amid uproar over the fatal police shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview.

The Police Commission still needs to approve a policy for officers to use the weapons.

Former Supervisor Angela Alioto, another mayoral candidate, also supports Tasers, while homeless advocate Amy Farah Weiss opposes arming police with the devices in her bid for mayor.

Leno expanded on his reasoning in a recent questionnaire.

“We know that Tasers are not the answer to non-lethal police response — de-escalation training is,” Leno said.

“Our responsibility is to ensure we’re equipping our officers with the tools and skills they need to keep everyone safe, while making the necessary reforms to protect and serve our communities as best we can,” Leno added.

In her Medium post, Breed said she supported the Police Commission’s decision.

“I will fund their implementation,” Breed said. “And NO ONE will be more vigilant than me in making sure they are implemented and used appropriately.”

Earlier this month, the Police Commission approved a proposed $3.5 million budget for Tasers. The Board of Supervisors and interim Mayor Mark Farrell still have to decide on the funding during the upcoming budget process.

In June, voters will also be asked whether to require the SFPD to annually budget for the devices for each officer under a ballot measure from the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

The ballot measure also includes guidelines for officers to use the devices that critics worry could be less stringent than a policy created at the Police Commission in the coming months.

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