San Francisco to allow police to deploy killer robots
The law gives law enforcement officers the ability to deploy robots with explosives to “contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects” in extreme emergencies
December 1, 2022 6:53am
Updated: December 1, 2022 12:43pm
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to allow the city’s police to use potentially lethal remote-controlled robots in emergency situations, reported The Associated Press.
The board voted 8-3, with a majority agreeing to grant police with more options for law enforcement despite objections from civil right activists and police oversight groups.
Those who oppose the decision claim that such a move will potentially lead to further militarization of the police force, who widely uses its force against minority groups.
Supervisor Connie Chan, who forwarded the proposal to the board, said that despite concerns, “according to state law, we are required to approve the use of these equipments. So here we are, and it’s definitely not an easy discussion.”
Currently, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has a dozen functioning ground robots in its force that were acquired between 2010 and 2017 and have not yet been used. However, SFPD spokesperson Allison Maxie said that the police do not operate the robots and do not plan to arm them.
Instead, the law gives law enforcement officers the ability to deploy robots with explosives to “contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects” in extreme emergencies.
“Robots equipped in this manner would only be used in extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent lives,” she added.
“There could be an extraordinary circumstance where, in a virtually unimaginable emergency, they might want to deploy lethal force to render, in some horrific situation, somebody from being able to cause further harm,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said at the board meeting, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The first time a robot was ever used to deliver explosives was in 2016 when Dallas police sent an armed robot against a sniper that had killed five police officers.