Miami News

San Francisco police can now use killer robots on duty

A supervisors vote legalized this controversial policy for San Francisco police

On Tuesday, San Francisco's board of supervisors approved a measure allowing police to employ deadly remote-controlled killer robots in times of crisis. This happened after a heated discussion and several divided opinions about how much support law enforcement should have.

Despite substantial opposition from civil rights and other police monitoring organizations, the majority voted to provide San Francisco police officers with the choice, 8-3. Critics of the authority expressed their concerns as this could risk police brutality, arguing that this would make officials even more hostile to low-income and minority neighborhoods.

Behind the supervisors vote

Supervisor Connie Chan, who served on the panel that recommended the idea to the entire board, acknowledged the board's legitimate worries about the potential for excessive force. She did, however, acknowledge that state law requires the department's approval for using these technologies.

On Tuesday, the plan was revised by supervisors to clarify that cops would only be allowed to employ killer robots if they had exhausted all other options of force and de-escalation and still been unable to apprehend the subject. Only a select few high-ranking officials would have the authority to deploy lethal robots.

Close-up of a robot hand

Killer robots are not a new weapon for cops

American law enforcement agencies have used lethal and killer robots before. The first instance was back in 2016. After a suspect killed five Dallas police officers with gunfire, the city's police force used a killbot equipped with explosives to eliminate the threat.

The San Francisco Police Department claims that it has a dozen operational ground robots that may be used to evaluate explosives or act as "eyes" in limited visibility circumstances. They were purchased between 2010 and 2017 and, according to law enforcement, have never been deployed to trigger an explosive device.

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