University has yet to answer why campus police need Tasers

Tasers, Tasers, Tasers… I get it – I’m tired of hearing about SF State’s Taser debate, too. But is the solution to let the administration do whatever they want because we’re annoyed that it’s taking too long to resolve?  That sounds childish.

UPD and the school’s administration need to prove to us why they need Tasers. We shouldn’t have to prove to them that they don’t. That puts them in the superior position of being inherently right. The University has the responsibility to respond to their community.

The money for UPD, all their training, equipment and salaries come from the school’s Student Affairs and Enrollment Office, which gets its money from students, in addition to state funding.  The 2013-2014 Student Affairs and Enrollment budget plan allocates $3.4 million to University Police. That’s money we all put in, so we are entitled to weigh in on how that money is spent.

Tasers are to be used as a resort before reaching for a gun, but SF State has had few incidents of weapon possession on or near campus. In the last three years, according to the 2013 Campus Security Report, the most reports in a given year of weapon possession was three, and they don’t specify the types of weapons that were possessed.

Police officers are not superior people, nor are they less likely to commit wrong doings, acts of violence, be racist, sexist — or break the law. They do not deserve any more rights to be violent than I do. Giving them another tool to use against students on the assumption they would only use it with the utmost responsibility, is naive.

The ACLU released a study saying “the lack of regulation of Tasers is very disturbing in light of the increasing number of deaths associated with their use.”

For those that think the only way they would end up on the receiving end of a Taser is if they were breaking the law, they might be right. They might also be white. People of color in America understand differently though.

Excessive force on part of police is just part of life for black and brown Americans. Giving our UPD Tasers might make some feel safer, but for those in the community that have historically been victims of blurred lines between “reasonable and necessary force” and excessive force, they will feel differently.

Racial and ethnic profiling is not gone. According to a report by the ACLU, federal, state, and local law enforcement continue to engage in “harsh racial and ethnic profiling” that target Black, Latino and Arab communities.

Should I really consider myself lucky to only be Tased by police, instead of beaten to the ground or worse? How about police treat us like we have civil liberties or think before they reach for that weapon?

Police are given rights above and beyond the average citizen, and haven’t done anything to prove they deserve them. Police need to be held accountable for using force, just like anyone else, not given the benefit of the doubt because they wear a blue suit, and I wear a black hoodie.

Giving our UPD officers Tasers won’t make them less likely to pull out their gun; it will only make them feel more justified to reach for their Taser when the situation needed only a conversation.

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