Police will be allowed to use their unmanned vehicles against human targets if the local proposal is successful.
The San Francisco Police Department is seeking permission to deploy lethal robots against human suspects, according to a policy proposal sent to city officials. While the SFPD’s robots are designed primarily for bomb disposal and monitoring, police say they could be used as a last resort. “choosing deadly force.”
in one document setting out how the SFPD plans to use all of its military-style equipment, the department wrote that “Robots will only be used as an option of deadly force when the danger of death to civilians or officers is imminent and greater than any other option of force available to the SFPD.”
City supervisors disagree with this proposal, inserting a line saying “robots shall not be used as a use of force against any person.” However, when the documents were returned to the SFPD for review, the police aside line and return the text to its original version.
The material was published on Tuesday by local mission, a news site based in San Francisco. Aaron Peskin, chairman of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee, told the website that while he inserted the line banning lethal force, he ultimately approved of the police department’s changes, like “There may be scenarios where lethal force deployment is the only option.”
The entire board of directors will vote on the policy next Tuesday. Last month, police in neighboring Oakland removed language from a similar document that allowed them to use robots to kill suspects. Police departments across California are submitting similar policy documents to their cities, as a state law passed last year requires them to report their military arsenals and situations in which they can be used.
According to the documents, the SFPD has 17 robots that can be used to enter buildings, handle hazardous materials, detonate explosive devices or survey inaccessible areas. None of these devices were designed to kill people, but the Dallas Police Department forced plastic explosives to a bomb disposal bot in 2016 to kill a sniper who killed 5 officers. The SFPD now has the same robot – the Remotec F5A – in its arsenal.
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