May 25, 2024
San Francisco supervisors vote to allow police to use robots to kill | CNN

San Francisco supervisors vote to allow police to use robots to kill | CNN


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday night to approve a controversial policy that would allow police to deploy robots capable of using lethal force in extraordinary circumstances, according to multiple reports.

The Washington Post reports the vote came after a heated debate on a policy that would allow officers to use ground-based robots to kill “when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and officers cannot subdue the threat after using alternative force options or de-escalation tactics.”

The Post says the measure still requires a second vote next week and the mayor’s approval.

“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.

But Supervisors Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted against the policy, the Chronicle reported.

“There is serious potential for misuse and abuse of this military-grade technology, and zero showing of necessity,” Preston said at the meeting.

Ultimately, the board adopted an amendment requiring one of two high-ranking San Francisco Police Department leaders to authorize any use of a robot for lethal force, according to the Chronicle.

CNN has reached out to the Board of Supervisors for a copy of the meeting minutes.

Police spokesperson Robert Rueca told the Post the department has a fleet of robots and does not plan to outfit them with firearms. But he said explosive charges could be added to the robots to breach fortified structures, or the robots could be deployed to “contact, incapacitate, or disorient” a dangerous suspect without risking the life of an officer.

It has been widely reported that the first known example of US law enforcement using a robot to deploy lethal force was in 2016, when Dallas police killed an armed suspect accused of fatally shooting five police officers by detonating an explosive device placed on a bomb squad robot sent to where the suspect had taken shelter.

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