A POLICY draft that has just been released might give police officers explicit permission to deploy robots with the intent to kill suspects. 

This policy was drafted by the San Francisco Police Department, and it is on its way to the state’s Board of Supervisors.


The new policy would allow police robots to operate with more freedom and could result in the killing of suspectsCredit: Shutterstock
The policy is currently under revision in the city of San Francisco


The policy is currently under revision in the city of San FranciscoCredit: Getty

Its approval would determine the future of police robots in the city of San Francisco.

The policy has met resistance due to its language, which makes it clear that police officers can use robots and military-level tech with deadly force on certain occasions. 

“Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers are imminent and outweigh any other force option available to SFPD,” reads the policy. 

Initially, Aaron Peskin, a member of the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, wanted to use language that was less violent.

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“Robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person,” read the first draft of the policy. 

This wasn’t approved by the police, who returned the draft with the section scratched out in red. 

If the policy were to be approved, it would mark a first in the city of San Francisco, where robot use of deadly force has never been allowed. 

Peskin said that the initial draft was approved since “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.”

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According to Mission Local, those who oppose the ruling have called the language of the ruling “dystopian” and “not normal.” 

“We are living in a dystopian future, where we debate whether the police may use robots to execute citizens without a trial, jury, or judge,” said Tifanei Moyer, a senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

San Francisco Police has 17 robots, with 12 of them being fully functional. 

These devices are remote-controlled and are normally used in the case of bomb threats, using them to defuse them or investigate the surrounding area. 

The new policy will expand the robots’ uses, including training, simulations, critical incidents, and more. 

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Robot cops are a new concern for many states and will likely become more popular in the near future. 

In California, cities are drafting policies on their use of robots and military tech, resulting in new laws that could have significant implications for the future of millions.

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