San Francisco will allow police to deploy killer robots

San Francisco will allow police to deploy killer robots

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott answers questions during a news conference in San Francisco, May 21, 2019. The Democratic San Francisco Board of Supervisors may allow police to use robots. remote control, potentially lethal in emergency situations. The 11-member council will vote on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, on a controversial proposal opposed by civil rights advocates critical of the militarization of the police. Credit: AP Photo / Eric Risberg, Profile

Supervisors in San Francisco voted Tuesday to give the city’s police the ability to use potentially deadly, remote-controlled robots in emergency situations—after a heated debate. emotions reflect divisions within the political liberal council over supporting law enforcement.

The vote was 8-3, with a majority agreeing to allow the police to choose despite strong opposition from civil liberties and other police watchdog groups. Opponents argue that the government will lead to further militarization of a police force that is already too aggressive towards the poor and the poor. minority community.

Supervisor Connie Chan, a member of the committee that passed the proposal to the full council, said she understood the concerns about the use of force but “we are required by state law to approve the use of force.” using these devices. So here we are, and it’s certainly not an easy discussion.”

The San Francisco Police Department said it does not have weapons ready for the robot and has no plans to arm the robot. SFPD spokeswoman Allison Maxie said in a statement that the Department may deploy explosives-equipped robots “to communicate with, disable, or disorientate violent, armed suspects.” or dangerous” when life is at stake.

“Robots equipped in this way will only be used under extreme circumstances to save or prevent further damage to innocent lives,” she said.

Supervisors revised Tuesday’s proposal to specify that officers can only use robots after using alternative force or de-escalation tactics, or concluding that they will be invincible suspects through such alternative means. Only a limited number of senior officers can authorize the use of robots as a deadly force option.

San Francisco police currently have dozens of active ground robots that are used to assess bombs or provide eyes in low-visibility situations, the department said. Police officials said they were purchased between 2010 and 2017 and have never been used to transport explosive devices.

But explicit permission is needed after a new California law that goes into effect this year requires police and police departments to take inventory of military-grade equipment and obtain permission to use them.

The state law was drafted by San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu last year while he was a board member. It aims to provide the public with a forum and voice in the purchase and use of military-grade firearms bad affect community in accordance with the law.

A federal program has long distributed grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms, bayonets, armored vehicles and other surpluses. military equipment to help the local law enforcement.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump signed an order to reinstate the Pentagon program after his predecessor, Barack Obama, cut it in 2015, in part due to outrage over the use of the device. military during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

San Francisco police said late Tuesday that none of the robots were taken from military surplus, but some were purchased with federal grants.

Like many places across the United States, San Francisco is trying to balance public safety with precious civil rights such as privacy and the ability to live free from undue police surveillance. In September, supervisors agreed to run a test that would allow police access to a private surveillance camera feed in real time under certain circumstances.

Tuesday’s debate dragged on for more than two hours with members on both sides accusing the other of recklessly spreading fear.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who voted in favor of delegating the policy, said he was troubled by claims that the police department was unreliable and dangerous.

“I think there are bigger questions to be asked when progressives and progressive policies start to treat the public as if they were anti-police,” he said. “I think it’s bad for progressives. I think it’s bad for this Board of Supervisors. I think it’s bad for Democrats across the country.”

Councilmember Shamann Walton, who voted against the proposal, rejected it, saying it made him not anti-police, but “pro-people of color.”

“We are constantly being asked to do things in the name of increasing firearms and creating opportunities for negative interactions between the police department and people of color,” he said. “This is just one of those things.”

The San Francisco Office of Public Protection sent a letter Monday to the board saying granting police “the ability to kill community members remotely” goes against the city’s progressive values. city. The office wants the board to reinstate language that prohibits police from using robots against any person in an act of force.

On the other side of San Francisco Bay, the Oakland Police Department dropped a similar proposal following public backlash.

The first time a robot was used to deliver explosives in the US was in 2016, when Dallas police sent in an armed robot killed a lurking sniper who killed 5 officers in an ambush.

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