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San Francisco officials vote to allow police to use ‘killer robots’

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Dec 01, 2022 - 12:39 AM

ISTANBUL (AA) – Authorities in San Francisco approved the use of robots with potentially deadly capabilities by the city’s police force after a heated board vote, local media and officials said.

After an “impassioned debate” that resulted in an 8-3 vote, supervisors on Tuesday authorized police to use bomb disposal and reconnaissance robots, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

One of the city supervisors, Rafael Mandelman, confirmed that the board passed an ordinance approving the policy “governing the funding, acquisition, and use of certain technology.”

“This includes seven robots designed to neutralize/dispose of bombs, and provide video reconnaissance for operators,” Mandelman wrote on Twitter.

Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Shamann Walton voted against the policy.

Ronen condemned the decision, saying only three people “voted against arming robots with weapons to kill. A damn shame,” on Twitter.

Dean Preston, meanwhile, described the policy as a “dystopian military equipment policy—which will allow SFPD (San Francisco Police Department) to use robots to kill people—is deeply disturbing.”

“This is a sad moment for our City, and it shows how far we have strayed from the 2020 reckoning on police violence,” Preston said on Twitter.

According to Mandelman, under the policy, city police would be “authorized to use these robots to carry out deadly force in extremely limited situations when risk to loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available.”

Though none of the robots “have firearms attached,” and police have no plans to attach such weapons, Mandelman said that in some situations, such as terrorist attacks or mass shootings, law enforcement may use the robots.

Robots have been used by police in San Francisco since 2010 and so far have never been operated to deliver lethal force, he noted. “There is only one instance on record of a law enforcement robot being used to kill someone, in 2016 when Dallas Police used a robot to kill a sniper who had shot five officers.”

The Board of Supervisors is the legislative branch of the City and County of San Francisco and consists of 11 members as each member is elected on a non-partisan basis from the district where they live.

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