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

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 in danger and in other dangerous cases.

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

“The robots listed in this section should not be used outside of training and simulations, criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, urgent circumstances, warrant execution, or when evaluating a suspicious device,” the draft says. “Robots will only be used as a lethal force option when the risk of death to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to the SFPD.”

Of the 17 robots, only 12 work.


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

A police spokesperson told The Verge that the department has always had the option of using lethal force when the risk of death to members of the public or officers is imminent and leaves no other option available.

“The SFPD does not have any kind of specific plan in place as unusually dangerous or spontaneous operations where the need for the SFPD to provide lethal force via robot would be a rare and exceptional circumstance,” Officer Eve Laokwansathitaya told the outlet. in a press release.

. Digital contacted the SFPD.

In 2016, the Dallas Police Department used an explosive device attached to a robot to kill a suspect in the coordinated operation. sniper attack who killed five officers. At the time, experts said it was the first time law enforcement had used a robot for lethal force.

In Oakland, Calif., authorities were considering using armed robots, according to a report. However, the department said last month that leaders decided against it.


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

“However, after further discussions with the Chief and the management team, the department has determined that it no longer wishes to explore this particular option,” the statement continued.

. police San Francisco propose to allow robots kill in of rare circumstances exceptional

. San Francisco police propose allowing robots kill rare exceptional circumstances

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