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San Francisco Police get special permission to use 'killer robots' after heated debate

New DelhiEdited By: Sayan GhoshUpdated: Dec 01, 2022, 07:48 PM IST
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According to the Washington Post, the newly-approved policy will allow the police to use robots to kill “when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and officers cannot subdue the threat after using alternative force options or de-escalation tactics.” 

The police in San Francisco will be able to use robots that can kill after official approval from the city’s Board of Supervisors. The official body was engaged in a heated debate over the top for quite some time but the decision was finally taken after a vote on Wednesday.  

According to the Washington Post, the newly-approved policy will allow the police to use robots to kill “when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and officers cannot subdue the threat after using alternative force options or de-escalation tactics.” 

While the authorities are convinced with the current policy, it will need to pass a second round of voting before it is presented to the mayor for final approval. The measure will only be used in “extreme situations” and in order to use the robots, one of three senior police leaders will have to give approval.

At present, the San Francisco Police Department possesses robots that are used mainly for reconnaissance, bomb disposal and rescue operations. However, department spokesperson Robert Rueca made it clear that they are not armed and the police will need some time to come up with the system to effectively train the robots to “contact, incapacitate, or disorient” a dangerous suspect. 

Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, expressed her concern regarding the development and said that it can be a dangerous precedent in the United States. 

“In my knowledge, this would be the first city to take this step of passing a law authorizing killer robots,” Cahn told The Post.