The San Francisco Police Department has drafted a policy for the city’s Board of Supervisors to get approval for police officers to deploy robots to kill suspects. The robots would only be used in situations where “risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD.” Critics are laughing, calling the suggestion straight out of Hollywood. The draft proposal has received pushback from inside and outside the Board.
One Board Supervisor, Aaron Peskin, resisted the idea and redrafted his response numerous times. But the police force already maintains robots- so why not? The staff has a dozen fully functioning remote-controlled robots currently used for area inspections and bomb disposal when rarely necessary.
The Dallas PD did say in 2016 that the robots make excellent bomb delivery platforms. Although there is nothing stopping police from using live rounds with the robots if needed, the robots truly have been meant for bomb disposal. They are equipped with blank shotgun shells and used to disrupt explosive devices from the inside.
The drafted policy outlines how the SFPD wants to use its 17 remote-controlled robots instead of just using them for bomb defusing and hazardous materials. The draft states that the robots would only be used inside training and simulations, during criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, executing a warrant, or during suspicious device assessment. Questionable device assessment is not far from its current use and may receive a pass-on request. The SFPD only wants permission to use the robots on suspects when the public or officers risk losing their lives.
According to the SFPD, the request is only for life-threatening and extenuating circumstances. However, the devices have not been used for such a thing before and would likely not be passed by the Board. Should the idea be considered, the Board would have to make sure the robots are tested, safe, and don’t act erratically or else risk harm to the public. Releasing untested robots into the streets is an overwhelmingly awful idea without proper testing and protocol.
A draft policy set to be voted on next week would cement SFPD's authority to use robots for lethal force.
“This is not normal,” said civil rights attorney Tifanei Moyer. “No legal professional or ordinary resident should carry on as if it is normal.”https://t.co/1QBrIbDLdd
— Mission Local (@MLNow) November 22, 2022