The Employment of Lethal Robots by San Francisco Police: After an extremely intense discussion that lasted for two hours, the decision was made to allow the usage of the equipment that was operated remotely. Officials in San Francisco have agreed to authorize the deployment of potentially lethal, remote-controlled robots by the city’s police force in the event of an emergency.
The Use of Autonomous, Deadly Robots by San Francisco’s Police Force
Officials in San Francisco have agreed to authorize the deployment of potentially lethal, remote-controlled robots by the city’s police force in the event of an emergency.
An extremely intense two-hour debate preceded the vote of 8-3 in favor of the measure, which occurred over strong protests from civil rights and other police oversight groups in the city located on the west coast of the United States.
Supervisor Connie Chan, who was a member of the committee that presented the proposal to the entire board, stated that while she understood the board’s concerns over the use of force, she explained that “according to state law, we are compelled to sanction the use of this equipment.” Now that we’ve arrived at this point, let me warn you that this is not going to be an easy conversation.
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has stated that it does not possess any robots that are already armed and that it does not intend to equip robots with firearms shortly. Allison Maxie, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Police, said in a statement that the department might employ robots outfitted with explosive charges “to confront, incapacitate, or disorient belligerent, armed, or dangerous suspects” when lives are at risk.
“Robots outfitted in this fashion would only be deployed in extreme situations to save or prevent additional loss of innocent life,” she stated. “This would only be done in extreme circumstances.”
It had been clarified that officers would only be permitted to use robots after they had exhausted alternative forms of force or de-escalation tactics or after they had concluded that they would not be able to subdue the suspect through the use of these alternative means. This amendment had been made to the proposal before it was voted on and passed. Only a select few high-ranking officials have the authority to give the go-ahead for the employment of lethal robots as an option in the use of force.
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In response to growing concerns that the militarization of the police was producing a culture within law enforcement that encouraged the use of excessive force, the state of California passed a new law in 2018 that mandated all police and sheriff’s departments in the state to conduct an inventory of their military-grade equipment and seek approval before employing it.
The Public Defender’s office in San Francisco issued a warning earlier this week in a letter that providing law enforcement “the capacity to murder community people remotely” would conflict with the progressive principles that are held in this city. The office requested that the board bring back wording that prohibits law enforcement from deploying robots against any individual in the commission of an act of force.
On the other side of San Francisco Bay, the Oakland Police Department withdrew a comparable idea after receiving negative feedback from the community.
In 2016, Dallas police sent in an armed robot that killed a holed-up sniper who had previously murdered five cops in an ambush. This was the first occasion in the United States that a robot was deployed to apply fatal force to a human target.