Suhr: SFPD Tasers not a priority

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Asked on June 17 for an update on a San Francisco Police Department bid to research and implement the use of Tasers, Police Chief Greg Suhr indicated that it was on the back burner for now.

"I know that the Tasers and all were a huge discussion in prior administrations," Suhr said. "I think right now with everything else that we have going, and especially with budgetary constraints right now, that in all honesty we really haven't gotten to that yet."

Among community concerns surrounding Tasers earlier this year were fears that adopting the so-called nonlethal weapons would overshadow a parallel effort to improve police responses to calls involving the mentally ill.

Asked about progress on the implementation of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), a program advocated by Police Commissioner Angela Chan to train officers to better respond to calls involving the mentally ill, Suhr noted that he backed CIT and had taken preliminary steps to improve the department's response in those situations.

"Within the first week that I was here, we put in a new policy and a procedure where every single mentally ill call is to be treated as a mini-critical incident, so a sergeant responds, takes charge of the scene, a little perimeter is set up, and unless that person is a danger to someone other than themselves, we wait. It's basically a slowdown," Suhr explained.

Community advocates championed CIT as an important step forward in the wake of the Jan. 4 shooting of Randal Dunklin, a wheelchair-bound, mentally ill man who was brandishing a knife outside the city's Department of Public Health building. Dunklin allegedly stabbed an officer and suffered a nonfatal gunshot wound to the groin after he had tossed the knife.

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