A proposed policy that will be presented to the Board of Supervisors this week would allow the San Francisco police to use robots to kill suspects. The policy covers how the police are allowed to use military-style weapons. It has been scrutinized by the three members of the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee.
Aaron Peskin, the chairman of the rules committee, made an effort to limit the police's use of robots by including the statement: “Robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person.”
The department, which drafted the proposed policy, rejected Peskin's suggestion. It was replaced with: “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.”
“The original policy they submitted was actually silent on whether robots could deploy lethal force,” Peskin said. He explained that he approved the proposed policy because the police argued that “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.”
We obtained a copy of the draft for you here.
The draft policy states that the robots can be used for “training and simulations, criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, executing a warrant or during suspicious device assessments.” But in extreme situations, they can be used to kill.
Cities in California are discussing new policies on the use of military-style weapons, following the passing of AB 481, a law that regulates police department's use of military style weapons.
The Board of supervisors could pass the policy as it is, or make amendments limiting the department's use of robots.