San Francisco reverses plans to permit police robots to kill suspects


San Francisco officers have voted towards permitting the police to kill suspects with remote-controlled robots. The metropolis’s board of supervisors reversed the coverage it accredited final week, following outcry and protests from residents and civil rights teams. However, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the brand new ban isn’t essentially everlasting, and the difficulty has been despatched “back to a committee for further discussion.”

The board initially accredited the coverage to let the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) use remote-controlled robots “as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available.”

A spokesperson for the SFPD mentioned that the division’s robots — most of that are massive models initially developed to disarm potential bombs in battle zones — could possibly be geared up with explosives “to contact, incapacitate, or disorient [a] violent, armed, or dangerous suspect” in “extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent lives.” Robots have already been used on this manner within the US earlier than. In Dallas in 2016, police used a bomb disposal robotic to kill an individual who had shot and killed 5 cops at a rally.

Opponents of the coverage mentioned permitting police to kill with robots might make killing extra seemingly

The coverage was strongly criticized by civil rights groups who mentioned it demonstrated the rising and worrying militarization of US regulation enforcement. In one protest letter signed by 44 neighborhood teams, critics mentioned the coverage would “endanger lives needlessly” and that the general public is “naturally uncomfortable with the use of armed robots in any situation.”

“There is no basis to believe that robots toting explosives might be an exception to police overuse of deadly force,” mentioned the letter. “Using robots that are designed to disarm bombs to instead deliver them is a perfect example of this pattern of escalation, and of the militarization of the police force that concerns so many across the city.”

Arguments similar to these appear to have persuaded San Francisco’s board of supervisors. One of the supervisors who initially voted in favor of the coverage, Gordon Mar, mentioned in a thread on Twitter that he’d since grown “increasingly uncomfortable with our vote & the precedent it sets for other cities.”

“I do not think making state violence more remote, distanced, & less human is a step forward,” mentioned Mar. “I do not think removing the immediacy and humanity of taking a life and putting it behind a remote control is a reasonable step for a municipal police force. I do not think robots with lethal force will make us safer, or prevent or solve crimes.”

Another supervisor, Hillary Ronen, who had beforehand voted towards the coverage, additionally celebrated the u-turn on Twitter. “We just stopped the use of killer robots robots in SF,” tweeted Ronen. “Complete reversal from last week. Common sense prevailed.”

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