San Francisco Considers Allowing Use of Deadly Robots by Police

American Age Official

Also on the list: 17 robots, five of which are out of commission, according to the Police Department. The robots were acquired between 2010 and 2017, the police said, and include heavy-duty models that can climb stairs, robots with tank treads that can defuse bombs and a small robot that can deliver an instantaneous video and audio feed.

The Police Department said that none of its robots were “outfitted with lethal force options and the department has no plans to outfit robots with any type of firearm.”

But “robots could potentially be equipped with explosive charges to breach fortified structures containing violent, armed, or dangerous subjects or used to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects who pose a risk of loss of life to law enforcement or other first responders,” the department said in a statement.

The department added, “Robots equipped in this manner would only be used in extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent lives.”

The policy advanced by the board states that robots “will only be used as a deadly force option 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 options or conclude that they will not be able to subdue the threat after evaluating alternative force options and de-escalation tactics.”

Only the police chief, assistant chief of operations or deputy chief of special operations would be able to authorize the use of deadly force by robots, the policy says.

Opponents said the policy was dangerous and could lead to more police violence.

Robots create a “false distance that makes killing the individual easier,” Hillary Ronen, a city supervisor who voted against the policy, said. “We don’t want it to be easy. We don’t want to create that distance and that removal from the emotional impact of killing, of taking an individual’s life.”

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