Police in San Francisco will soon be able to use lethal robots
The Hill reported that despite strong opposition from civil liberties and other police oversight groups, a majority of the San Francisco City Council agreed to grant the option to police, with eight votes in favour and one against.
Law enforcement officials have long advocated for this change, noting the necessity of using lethal force against “extremely rare cases against violent suspects” like suicide bombers.
“Robots equipped in this manner would only be used in extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent life,” said San Francisco Police spokeswoman Allison Maxie in a statement.
Civil liberties groups believe the police force “is already too aggressive toward poor and minority communities,” so this authorization worries them because it would lead to “further militarization” of the police force, as reported by the newspaper.
The San Francisco Police Department uses a fleet of about a dozen ground robots, which can perform tasks such as determining the danger posed by bombs or providing visibility in low-light settings. The SFPD has maintained that despite the fact that they were purchased between 2010 and 2017, they have never been used to drop an explosive device.
According to law enforcement, these robots can “addressing criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, executing a warrant for suspicious device assessments,” among other tasks.