San Francisco Backpedals On Killer Cop Bots

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Dec 08, 2022 - 12:20 AM

One week after San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted to give police the ability to use lethal, remote-controlled robots, wisdom has prevailed.

Following heavy criticism from civil liberties groups, and anyone with a brain, the Board of Supervisors thought twice about giving cops the ability to 'take down' suspects at the push of a button. After sending the measure to committee for further review, the city reversed course.

The vote came following a new California law requiring city police forces to keep inventories of military-grade equipment and seek approval for their use.

Dr Catherine Connolly, from the group Stop Killer Robots, told the BBC the move was a "slippery slope" that could distance humans from killing.

Protesters and several dissenting board members gathered on the steps of city hall to call for the city to reverse its decision. -BBC

Opponents also said the robots would lead to the further militarization of the police force.

The original proposal will need to be completely revamped, or entirely scrapped.

Advocates for the killer robots say they would only be used in 'extreme' circumstances, with a spokesperson for the SFPD saying that "robots could potentially be equipped with explosive charges to breach fortified structures containing violent, armed, or dangerous subjects."

Under the original proposal, "Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when [1] risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and [2] 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 or de-escalation tactics. Only the Chief of Police, Assistant Chief, or Deputy Chief of Special Operations may authorize the use of robot deadly force options."

But as the EFF's Matt Guariglia noted last week; The “or” in this policy (emphasis added) does a lot of work. Police can use deadly force after “evaluating alternative force options or de-escalation tactics,” meaning that they don’t have to actually try them before remotely killing someone with a robot strapped with a bomb.