San Francisco police have proposed allowing robots to kill in ‘rare and exceptional’ circumstances

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San Francisco authorities have proposed a policy that would allow its military-style robots to use deadly force in situations where someone’s life is at risk and in other dangerous situations.

A draft policy for the San Francisco Police Department outlines how it will use its 17 remote-controlled, unmanned robots, which are often used to defuse bombs and deal with hazardous materials.

“Robots listed in this section shall not be used outside of training and simulation, criminal apprehension, serious incidents, emergency situations, executing a warrant or evaluating suspicious devices,” the draft says. “Robots shall only be used as a deadly force alternative when the risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and greater than any other force alternative available to SFPD.”

Only 12 out of 17 robots are working.

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Officers from the New York Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit operate a remote-controlled robot on a street near the United Nations building on September 14, 2005 in New York City. A draft policy by the San Francisco Police Department suggests that such robots could use lethal force in some cases.
(Photo by Robert Nickelsburg/Getty Images)

A police spokesperson told The Verge that the department always has the authority to use lethal force when there is imminent danger to the lives of members of the public or officers and no other option is available.

“SFPD does not have a specific plan because unusually dangerous or spontaneous operations where SFPD would need to deliver deadly force via robots are a rare and exceptional situation,” Officer Eve Laokwansathithaya told the news outlet in a statement.

LBL Digital reached out to the SFPD.

In 2016, the Dallas Police Department used an explosive device attached to a robot to kill a coordinated suspect. Sniper attack Five officers were killed. At the time, experts said it was the first time law enforcement had used a robot for deadly force.

In Oakland, California, authorities there are considering using armed robots, according to a report. But the department said last month that leaders had decided against it.

“The Oakland Police Department (OPD) is not adding armed remote vehicles to the department,” an Oct. 18 police statement said. “OPD participated in ad hoc committee discussions with the Oakland Police Commission and community members to explore all possible uses of the vehicle.”

“However, after further discussions with the principal and executive team, the department has decided that it no longer wishes to explore that particular option,” the statement continued.

San Francisco police have proposed allowing robots to kill in ‘rare and exceptional’ circumstances

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