SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A controversial meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission suddenly went into recess Wednesday evening after one speaker refused to step down at the end of her allotted time in public comment.
Vigils and protests following Woods’ death have emphasized the public’s desire for police officers to de-escalate violent situations rather than using lethal force.
The meeting, which began around 5:30 p.m., was stopped suddenly around 7:45 p.m.
At that time a member of the commission could be heard urging sheriff’s deputies to back away from the woman in question.
Before that, many members of the public criticized the fatal police shooting of Mario Woods last Wednesday, as well as other recent controversies involving the San Francisco Police Department, with numerous individuals demanding the resignation or dismissal of Chief Greg Suhr.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee responded to calls for change.
“They have a knife, we’ve got guns. Is there something less than the use of the guns that can be considered? It’s about saving a life that doesn’t have to be lost if we can use alternatives,” Lee told KPIX’s Phil Matier Wednesday.
The mayor’s call for minimum use of force, however, is already being pushed back by the police union.
“If someone has a knife and is advancing on you, you don’t start out with pepper spray,” said Police Union President Martin Halloran “You start out with a fire arm. That’s reasonable. To say you’ll start with minimal force with every situation? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not practical and it’s not safe.”
Following calls from the community to de-escalate police confrontations, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said he is equipping police officers with 60 protective shields — 10 for each of the department’s six districts — and is looking toward increasing training for officers in de-escalation tactics, joining the national program Re-Engineering Training on Police Use of Force.
“The minimal amount of force needed to neutralize the threat will always be seen as the reasonable amount,” said Surh.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, Suhr also was set to renew a request for officers to be issued Tasers.
But that idea is getting push back from some quarters.
“People are talking about Tasers as the be all to end all,” said San Francisco Supervisor David Campos. “The reality is that Tasers can be lethal.”
The meeting eventually resumed.