San Francisco police to unleash crimefighting killer robots on the streets

Killer robo-cops could soon be hitting the streets, thanks to a concerning new development in San Francisco.

Yesterday, police watchdogs on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Rules Committee backed a proposal by the SFPD allowing it to use robots with 'lethal force' against suspects where needed.

The SFPD currently has 12 remote-controlled bomb defusal robots. They wanted permission to retrofit these with live ammunition or explosives for use in instances when human officers would struggle to apprehend a suspect.

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AP reports that the board voted strongly in favour of the proposal, with 8-3 agreeing that police should be able to use the robots.

SFPD spokesperson Allison Maxie said the robots could be used 'to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects'.

In a statement, Maxie said: "Robots equipped in this manner would only be used in extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent lives."

Despite the strong majority vote, the proposal was met with firm opposition by those concerned about civil liberties.

Dean Preston, one of the police supervisors who voted against the motion, said: "San Francisco is not a warzone, and these kinds of devices are not needed to protect this city".

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Board president Shamann Walton also voted against the proposal, saying: "We continuously are being asked to do things in the name of increasing weaponry and opportunities for negative interaction between the police department and people of colour. This is just one of those things."

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Public Defender's office said that giving police "the ability to kill community members remotely" violates the city's 'progressive values'.

The robots will not be autonomous, meaning they can only be used when remotely controlled by a police officer.

However, it marks a worrying step forward towards a future when the law is enforced by machines, rather than people.


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