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San Francisco will enable police to make use of robots with lethal pressure


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A Qinetiq multi-mission explosive ordnance disposal robotic. | Supply: Qinetiq

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday evening to permit the San Francisco Police Division (SFPD) to make use of remote-controlled and doubtlessly deadly robots in emergency conditions. The board voted 8-3 in favor of giving police the choice to deploy robots as a final resort in emergency conditions. 

Tuesday evening, the board added language to the proposal to specify that officers can solely use such robots after utilizing various pressure, de-escalation ways or deciding that the topic wouldn’t be subdued utilizing these various means. Even then, just a few high-ranking officers can authorize the usage of robots for lethal pressure. 

It will enable officers to make use of ground-based robots to kill “when threat of lack of life to members of the general public or officers is imminent and officers can not subdue the risk after utilizing various pressure choices or de-escalation ways.”

The vote adopted an over two-hour-long debate, with opponents of the measure voicing considerations about additional militarization of San Francisco’s police pressure, which civil liberties and different police oversight teams mentioned was already too aggressive with poor and minority communities.

Proponents of the measure, nevertheless, mentioned utilizing robots in excessive conditions can hold extra cops protected by taking them out of lethal conditions. Some mentioned it might lower the usage of lethal pressure, as officers usually use it once they really feel their lives are at risk, and a robotic would take away that threat. 

At present, the San Francisco Police Division says it has no pre-armed robots and no plans to begin strapping weapons to robots. As an alternative, the division mentioned it might equip one in all its 12 functioning robots with explosive costs. Based on SFPD spokesperson Allison Maxie, these robots could be used to contact, incapacitate or disorient armed or harmful suspects. 

“Robots geared up on this method would solely be utilized in excessive circumstances to save lots of or forestall additional lack of harmless lives,” Maxie mentioned in a press release.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s workplace mentioned the coverage “strikes stability between defending lives and establishing guardrails to forestall misuse” in a press release in regards to the choice. 

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