Prop. H Is the SF Police Union’s “Unprecedented Power Grab” to Undermine SFPD’s Taser Policy, Opponents Say

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

The San Francisco Police Officers Association is campaigning on behalf of a proposed ballot initiative, Proposition H, that if passed by voters on June 5, would establish Taser guidelines more relaxed than those already put in place by the city’s police commission. According to Prop. H proponents, the ballot measure would get Tasers into officers hands by the end of 2018. Critics of the measure have complained that the union’s Prop. H literature doesn’t make it clear that the department already has a Taser use policy in place, with plans to arm officers with the weapons later this year.

Prop. H has a long list of opponents that includes the ACLU, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, SF District Attorney George Gascón, SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and the city’s mayor, Mark Farrell, a longtime friend of the police union. Farrell initially came out in support of the measure, but has since reversed his stance on the issue, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Farrell says that the SF Police Commission’s own Taser use policy, finalized in March, is a policy that “works best for the community and for our officers.”

In November 2017, the San Francisco Police Commission voted 4-3 in favor of arming the city’s officers with stun guns starting in December 2018. SF is one of the nation’s only large cities whose officers are not equipped with Tasers. (By that time, the debate about whether to arm officers with stun guns, which are meant to provide cops with a non-lethal weapon option, had been raging for months. Critics have argued that shocks from a Taser can sometimes prove fatal, especially for mentally ill inmates on medication.)

The commission’s policy says that officers can use a Taser on a person who is “violently” resisting officers’ attempt to arrest them. Cops can also employ tasers against people who armed with a non-firearm weapon, like “an edged weapon or blunt object,” and who are injuring or threatening to injure a police officer or civilian. If a person is threatening harm, officers must have “reasonable belief that the subject has the intent and capability of carrying out the threat.”

The policy bans officers from using the weapons against people who are elderly, obviously pregnant, look frail, if they appear to be a child, or if there is “credible” info that the person has a serious psychiatric illness or another obvious medical condition.

Officers must complete crisis-intervention training in order to carry the weapons.

Like the commission’s policy, under Prop. H, officers must complete training before using stun guns on the streets. The SFPD would also be required to conduct an investigation each time an officer used a Taser. Additionally, the SFPD would be required to have defibrillators in patrol cars in the districts where Tasers are in use, in case a person went into cardiac arrest after being shocked.

The POA’s rules for Taser use under Prop. H are less restrictive than those created by the police commissioners, whose job it is to set policy for the department.

Prop. H would allow officers to shock an individual who is “actively” resisting arrest, while the commission’s policy says a person must be “violently” resisting. The POA’s president, Martin Halloran, argues in the POA’s newsletter that the “actively resisting” language “is consistent with the language in the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Taser policy, Oakland Police Department policy and San Jose Police Department’s policy.”

According to the ACLU, “if Prop H passes, San Francisco police will be allowed to use a Taser on someone who is unarmed and poses no immediate physical threat, or on someone who says no to a police order due to confusion or mental illness.”

Additionally, any amendment to the measure would have to be approved by a majority of the city and county’s voters, or by a four-fifths vote by the SF Board of Supervisors.

Because of this rule, the ACLU of Northern California has called Prop. H an “unprecedented power grab,” that would undermine the police commission and Chief Scott’s authority, and make it difficult to adjust the policy, if needed, or to update it to match changing national best practices.

Scott–who was revealed Wednesday to be one of the final three candidates vying to take the helm of the Los Angeles Police Department–initially appeared as if he might remain neutral on the ballot measure. The chief ultimately chose to speak out against Prop. H, calling it the “antithesis of the spirit” of the U.S. Department of Justice’s recommended reforms for the SFPD.

The measure “would not promote a nimble process allowing modifications or changes to [stun gun] related policies if the changes are inconsistent with the measure,” Chief Scott said in a letter to the SF Department of Elections. “Moreover, it is not a national best practice to promulgate policing operational policies relating to equipment usage and regulation by voter majority or a four-fifths vote of a legislative entity such as the Board of Supervisors. This responsibility to set and make policy adjustments and the responsibility to manage the operations of the Department should rest with the Police Commission and the Chief of Police respectively.”

San Francisco Chronicle recommends residents vote against Prop. H. “The terms [of the SFPD Taser policy] should be left to the commission, which can adjust standards as events warrant,” the SF Chron states. “That can’t happen as easily under this measure, a drawback at a time when police and community trust are critical.”

The San Francisco Examiner, too, called Prop. H a measure “designed to deceive unwary voters.”

The POA “wants to override regulations on TASERs imposed by civilian oversight by taking policy to the ballot, where they can massively outspend communities & government leaders and wage a deceptive campaign to loosen TASER rules,” said Peter Bibring, ACLU of Southern California senior staff attorney and director of policing practices.

The May 2018 edition of the POA’s newsletter announces that the union will soon “pay members’ kids between the ages of 12-17 $10.00 an hour to help pass out informational pamphlets” on Prop. H with their parents.

The powerful POA has been accused by the ACLU and others of using hefty campaign contributions and “scare tactics” to stand in the way of department reform. For example, the union brought negotiations over a new use-of-force policy to a halt, and sued the city, because it did not want officers to lose the right to use carotid chokeholds and shoot into moving vehicles.

In March, several members of the SF Board of Supervisors backed advocates’ calls to Mayor Farrell to try to force the union to agree to police reforms in exchange for the boosts in salary that the POA had been trying to negotiate for months. The city was ready to leverage the contracts, but an arbitration panel decided in May that the POA had a legal right to keep fighting the DOJ’s recommended reforms and that officers would still get a 9 percent raise.

This story has been updated for clarity.

Image: U.S. Department of Defense – Military police and civilian law enforcement officers with the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Provost Marshals Office (PMO) fire the Taser X26 during their annual Taser training aboard MCAS Miramar, California, July 15.


  • Of course a civilian oversight committee knows what’s best for law enforcement, with all their knowledge and experience. Sounds to me like Alads should stand up and take notice what a REAL union does for their members. All proactive for the good of the membership

    • Win or lose or draw definitely shows the mettle of the San Francisco Police Union. No white flag or making excuses for lack of action. The 1992 riots were due to “lack of action” as dictated by those in charge of LAPD.
      For ALADS, it’s just a matter of time before they reap what they sow.

      • Speaking of police unions, no need to go further than ALADS Facebook page. It truly describes how deputies really feel. The article and comments on their decision not to endorse is only second to the defensiveness of ALADS president. Not trying to start another ALADS complaint column, just comparing the the fight of SFPD P.O.A to ALADS lack.

  • That they don’t have them as standard equipment already shouldn’t surprise anyone. The far left has turned S.F. into the sewer it is now and caring about the safety about cops isn’t in the top 100 of their list of things that matter to officials there. Not here either.

  • The main problem with the people running S.F. is that they’re cheap. If S.F. Wants to run a boutique city where the political class gets to run on a platform of opposing their own police department (for the usual rich people ,white guilt, elitist fashionable nonsense reasons), they should be ready to pay. Make a starting police officers pay $200,000, that way everyone wins. If these people want to live in fantasy land they ought to be ready to pay for it, it’s not like they don’t have the money.

  • As Ronnie would say, There you go again. Are You Kidding Me, do you really think police should police themselves. And, yes, a civilian commission may know more and be more objective. Who knows more about cancer, Officer Scott Craig who had 10 inches of his porcine colon taken out or the oncologist who treated him.

    Sure Fire, the far left has turned San Francisco into a sewer? You cant even afford to live there. WTF are you talking about? Again, pulling shit out of your ass. A “sewer” in what way?

    Maj. kong, $200K? Surely you jest. You are already overpaid for being a security guard, and you want more. Paaaaaleeeeeease.

    Gentlemen, please stop whining. Its getting old.

    • Cf, hey girl! Just sayin, you want protection from the bad men? you gotta be ready to pay some other men to do it. You want the men you payin’ to do it in some special way , in a way were you can still virtue signal about what an enlightened “woke” individual you are? Well, that needs to cost a little extra. Don’t worry SF has the money.

    • Hmm…..I can’t believe you actually referenced Ronald Reagan and used the word “porcine” in reference to the body part of someone with anger?

      Your sir/madame, or whatever you are, are a dick/pussy or should I say “penis/vagina”.

  • Maj. Kong, I hope you’re not flirting with me, or perhaps you are confusing me with your patrol partner. If you are, you must be one of those that oversee’s the boy’s cadet program.

    No need for protection, just a desire that you do your job, with a Wal Mart greeter’s smile, the manner’s of an English Butler and not so fat that you can’t catch anyone on foot. And, for that I want to pay a reasonable rate, not one that allows obese officers to retire at 55. And, service should come from someone cognizant that they are lucky to have that job, and not someone who is bitter, miserable going to work and counting the days til retirement because blacks have too many rights. BTW, I’m flattered, but stick to cadets.

    • Cf, cats out of the bag sweetie, your girl friend “reckoning” gave you up as girl. I have to admit I thought you were an effeminate middle aged male retiree with an ax to grind with law enforcement. Guess you’re more of an angry female ,cop hating social justice warrior type, probably friends with Celeste. Your anti cop rants always did come off a bit hysterical,daddy issues perhaps? BTW insinuating people are gay is now considered homophobic, so you know,you might want to check your privilege there sweetheart.

      • CF I love love love social media bc u can be anyone yu wanna be behind the bullet proof protected glass of a cpu screen. What i really hate about it is that when yu ask for an address everything goes silent…God I want nothing more than to hear these words said to face. High school loser’s arent about that life tho….

  • Once again CF doesn’t have all the facts. San Francisco is having a major human waste (sewer) problem all over the streets from the homeless. The city sends workers out in hazmat suits to clean the streets. Of course you never hear a word from the tree huggers about how all that human waste is being washed into the bay.

  • Reg/CF, I can afford to live there, I wouldn’t, like I said it’s a sewer, but I actually can. Sure Fire grew up on the poor side but he grew up smart financially plus he has a skill outside his chosen vocation and slapping you around that has done him well you lightweight little girl. Making coin is easy and making fun of your constant dumbassedness always fun. Back under your rock now.

  • This is what Progs are doing to the nation. Reg/CF here’s your new job when you head up to the People’s Republic, Syringe and Feces picker upper.

    The progressive-haven of San Francisco has become a heroin den, where free syringes now litter the streets thanks to the city’s boneheaded decision to hand out millions of those drug needles to addicts every year.

    According to Yahoo News, San Francisco distributes an estimated 400,000 drug syringes every month in the name of reducing HIV among drug users. Of that number, 246,000 syringes get discarded into the city’s 13 syringe access and disposal sites while the other remaining thousands end up on the streets, sidewalks, parks, or other public areas.

    “Syringes discarded in public places have become a nationwide problem amid growing heroin use, reports Yahoo News. “But in compact San Francisco (about 50 square miles, or 12,950 square hectares), where there is a growing homeless population, the problem is a lot more visible.”

    Just last year, the city received more than 9,500 requests for the pick-up of these syringes. We are only in May of 2018 and the city has already received 3,700 requests for syringe pick-up. The numbers for this year could easily topple last year’s.

    But that’s okay. San Francisco has clearly learned the lesson that handing out free syringes to users of illegal drugs only further destroys the city and will now be correcting course, right? Guess again. Actually, the city has no plans to correct course and will be going on with business as usual.

    “Research shows that reducing access to clean syringes increases disease and does not improve the problem of needle litter,” said Barbara Garcia, director of the Department of Public Health.

    That means the taxpayer will have to bear the burden. San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell has now hired 10 city workers whose sole jobs will be to clean up the syringes.

    Earlier this year, NBC News reported that the homeless haven of San Francisco has become so filth-infested that the city spends approximately $30 million a year to clean human feces and syringes off the sidewalks. People actually pay an arm and a leg to live in this literal “s**thole.”

    • Looked at from a different perspective, this a uniquely advantageous policy.
      The City of San Francisco is a valuable and reliable source of cadavers for the nearby elite medical schools.

  • Hey Celeste, just dump your rules, you don’t apply them to anyone as it is so why have them? No you don’t Reckoning, STFU you poser.
    Wish I had a few folks e-mails though, have a great story but can’t put it here.

  • Poser hahahaha…bro if only yu knew but ur a punk ass cop that needs his mosh pit crew to feel like a real dude lmaoooooo poser was the best thing he could say CF dead ass

  • Im so over this blog shit…i ignored high school loser’s in high but im entertaining their comic book existence from being given a badge and a gun!!! Hey pop quiz loser’s…I dare yu to go now and look at urself in the mirror. Before yu became a pig what was ur life “REALLY” like? Do yu talk the same? Are all ur friends pigs? R yu a republican? Did ur badge and gun give yu power that yu didn’t have before yu were a pig? If tbe anwer is yes…you are pathetic!!!! The culture of law enforecement is not looking to good right now anyway hahaha…SAUUUUUCE as u loser’s love to say!!!! ✌

    • A message from the sensitive and caring left, while witness la gives the ol’ nod and a wink. Guess witness la’s eleventh rule is the first ten rules don’t apply to cop haters. Remember that the next time Celeste tells you how much she cares.

  • Reckoning
    I think you are the high school loser. Maybe you should try typing real words from the English language instead of like a 12 year old texting their friends.

  • I got expelled from high school beginning of last quarter of senior year for fighting. This was due to admin getting accidentally hurt breaking it up. Went to our local continuation for a while and two teachers helped me get re-instated. Also had to promise two college coaches where I had my full ride in two sports I’d be a good boy. No crew poser. Played ball for a while, dropped out, military then police poser. Best friends from childhood still are best friends, not cops though great friends there as well. Adios.

  • Shut up sissy, poser tough guy wants to yap, now he has background maybe he’ll post his on his rapsheet the dimwit has nothing else. Oh wait, all you make believers with no jobs and no skills can still someday somehow be something if only cops will leave you alone, good luck with that girls.

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