Following a vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Police Department now has the authority to use robots capable of administering lethal force.
The new ordinance was passed by a vote of 8-3 despite an intense two-hour debate preceding the vote and criticism from police watchdog groups and other civil liberties organizations.
“San Francisco is not a war zone, and these kinds of devices are not needed to protect this city,” said supervisor Dean Preston, who voted against the proposal. “There is serious potential for misuse and abuse of this military-grade technology, and zero showing of necessity.”
But City Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said the robots are “designed to neutralize, dispose of bombs, and provide video reconnaissance for operators.” He noted that the robots will not be equipped with firearms but can be deployed under extreme circumstances to apply lethal force.
“Under this policy, SFPD is 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,” Mandelman tweeted.
“Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD,” the policy reads.