SF State police equipped with Tasers despite history of opposition

Access to Tasers will be mandatory for all University police following a recent collective bargaining agreement between California State University and the State University Police Association.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of CSU, Michael Redmond, announced the agreement Aug. 27 in an email to all 23 CSU presidents and police chiefs, among others. CSU and SUPA deemed necessary an equipment expansion that includes helmets, visors, protective body armor and pepper spray, in addition to Tasers. According to the email, the gear is standard in the protection of students, staff and faculty’s lives and property. The email also states that the CSU will provide the equipment, and each campus’s security department will provide training.

The possibility of equipping SF State police with Tasers set off a series of student protests in 2013, when the Chancellor’s Office granted Taser access to all 23 CSU campuses. The order spurred a negative response from students at SF State, leading to meetings with student groups, a forum and three rallies against the electroshock weapon, according to an Xpress article from 2013.

President Leslie E. Wong announced his decision against arming University police with Tasers, Feb. 10, 2014, citing negative student input as a main contributing factor in his decision, according to an Xpress article. Since the 2013 order, SF State has been the only CSU campus not to deploy Tasers, Wong said in a meeting with Xpress Aug. 31. While the previous contract allowed Wong the authority to choose, the new contract mandates that all CSU campuses comply.

SF State President Leslie E. Wong answers questions during an interview with Golden Gate Xpress Fall 2015 editors and reporters Monday, Aug. 31.

SF State President Leslie E. Wong answers questions during an interview with Golden Gate Xpress Fall 2015 editors and reporters Monday, Aug. 31.

In an interview with Xpress, Wong said he was notified of the new collective bargaining agreement after it had been finalized and was not consulted regarding the decision. According to Wong, the decision was solely between the CSU and SUPA.

“I felt in some way that I had failed the students, because we had had such a good and really honest discussion on how the students felt about this piece of equipment,” Wong said.

SF State University police began training with Tasers prior to the debate nearly two years ago, as reported in an Xpress article. The electroshock weapons that will be used on campus will be the same ones used during training, according to Wong. Officers who have completed adequate training will be able to use Tasers immediately, while new officers will undergo the required preparat

Former member of Associated Students, Inc. and current member of Students Against Police Brutality Celia LoBuono Gonzalez participated in the original discussions in 2013. She said she was not happy when she was informed of the new standards and feels that CSU and SUPA made the wrong decision in not making an exception for SF State. She said she expects the news to cause a stir once students are aware of the change.

“If those who are being impacted on the decision that’s being discussed don’t know that it’s even being discussed, then how can we really show how much this is important to us,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez would like CSU and SUPA to reopen negotiations but said she understands the complications of trying to change the contract.

Golden Gate Xpress contacted CSU officials and the University Police Department, but had not received a response at press time.

 

 

Timeline by Lulu Orozco and Jocelyn Carranza

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  • Excellent news, I am glad SUPA and the CSU system is looking out for their cops and public safety in general. Several CSU officers have had Officer involved shootings over recent years. There have been other incidents where SFSU cops have been victims to violent crimes. One officer was rammed off his dirt bike in a pursuit recently, in recent years 2 separate officers had a suspect attempt to disarm them and not to mention the subjects that resist arrest and assault officers. Yes, this is SFSU but the campus is not exempt from a wide variety of crimes. This tool could save someone’s life as an officer could use this as an alternative weapon to deadly force. SFSU is such a liberal school and sorry, it ultimately shouldn’t be up to the students. They aren’t the ones putting their lives on the line everyday like police officers. Just because the officers work on a campus, that should not change anything. The officers will be trusted to employ the use of tasers in accordance with established policy. People forget that CSU officers are sworn police officers with statewide authority and the exact same training as city officers. With the exception of SFPD, the vast majority of departments in California already have tasers. For people complaining that CSU cops shouldn’t have them since SFPD doesn’t have them, that is simply because SFPD has to jump through hoops with the out of touch and stubborn police commission just to get even the littlest new piece of technology. Congrats to the SFSUPD for this achievement and hopefully it will save lives and injuries on officers. Hopefully in 5 years SFPD will have some sort of less lethal equipment to match this equipment.