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SF police brass say pointing gun is use of force
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco police officers must tell supervisors when they point guns at suspects under a new policy implemented by the police chief.
Chief Greg Suhr said pointing a service weapon at someone amounts to a use of force that officers must justify, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.
The chief announced the change amid unrest over the killing of 26-year-old Mario Woods by police. Five officers have been placed on leave after the Dec. 2 shooting.
Police say Woods was suspected of a stabbing and refused commands to drop a knife. Critics and lawyers representing Woods’ mother say police didn’t have to fire their weapons.
Police union head Martin Halloran says the new policy appears to be a change in working conditions and it should be put on hold until it can be explained further.
Some law enforcement experts and department watchdogs support the change, saying most police departments in the country require a formal explanation when police draw and point a weapon.
Tony Ribera, a former San Francisco police chief and director of the International Institute of Law Enforcement Leadership at the University of San Francisco, supports the policy.
Ribera said he empathizes with patrol officers who will have to fill out more paperwork because of the change, but their explanation will help protect them and their departments from lawsuits.