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San Francisco police proposal could allow cops to kill suspects with robots

A San Francisco police proposal could give cops in the city the ability to kill suspects using remote-controlled robots.

A draft policy that details the controversial proposal states lethal force by robots would be allowed if there was a deadly threat to cops of the public, local outlets reported this week.

“Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers are imminent and outweigh any other force option available to SFPD,” part of the policy states, according to the news outlet Mission Local.

Assigned operators who would have to undergo training can operate the robots that are unmanned and controlled remotely, according to the draft policy.

If the draft policy is passed, the robots could be used during arrests, critical incidents, the execution of a warrant and during “suspicious device assessments,” the draft policy also states.

The rules committee that reviewed the proposal voted to send it to the Board of Supervisors to consider at a Tuesday meeting.

The police department has never used a robot to kill, according to a report.
San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Critics, including Tifanei Moyer, a senior staff attorney of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco Bay Area, blasted the proposal.

“We are living a dystopian future, where we debate whether the police may use robots to execute citizens without a trial, jury, or judge,” Moyer told Mission Local.

Moyer added in an email to the outlet, “No legal professional or ordinary resident should carry on as if it is normal.”

The department has 17 robots, but none have ever been used to attack an individual, a police spokesperson reportedly said.

The Dallas police department used a robot to kill a suspect in 2016 accused of killing five cops in a shooting.

Oakland police declined to go forward with a similar proposal that would allow them to use lethal-force robots after initially putting the idea forward, Mission Local reported. 

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