In late November, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors had accepted a proposal that will permit town’s police power to make use of remote-controlled robots as a lethal power choice when confronted with violent or armed suspects. The supervisors voted 8-to-3 in favor of constructing it a brand new coverage regardless of opposition by civil rights teams, however now they appear to have had a change of coronary heart. In the course of the second of two required votes earlier than a coverage will be despatched to the mayor’s workplace for remaining approval, the board voted 8-to-3 to explicitly ban the use of deadly power by police robots. As San Francisco Chronicle notes, this about-face is fairly uncommon, because the board’s second votes are sometimes simply formalities that echo the primary ones’ outcomes.
The San Francisco Police Division made the proposal after a regulation got here into impact requiring California officers to outline the licensed makes use of of their military-grade gear. It will have allowed cops to equip robots with explosives “to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or harmful suspects.” Authorities might solely use the robots for deadly power after they’ve exhausted all different prospects, and a high-ranking official must approve their deployment. Nonetheless, critics are involved that the machines might be abused.
Dean Preston, one of many supervisors who oppose the usage of robots as a lethal power choice, stated the coverage will “place Black and brown individuals in disproportionate hazard of hurt or dying.” In a more recent assertion made after the board’s second vote, Preston stated: “There have been extra killings by the hands of police than every other 12 months on file nationwide. We must be engaged on methods to lower the usage of power by native regulation enforcement, not giving them new instruments to kill individuals.”
Whereas the supervisors voted to ban the usage of deadly power by police robots — for now, anyway — in addition they despatched the unique coverage proposing the usage of killer robots again for assessment. The board’s Guidelines Committee might now amend it additional to have stricter guidelines to be used of bomb-equipped robots, or it might scrap the previous proposal altogether.