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.
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