SAN FRANCISCO – Just when officials in San Francisco demonstrated some rational thought, those same people have reversed course and caved to public pressure regarding a policy that would have permitted the San Francisco Police Department to utilize robots equipped for deadly force in very limited situations.
Following pushback and anger from police oversight groups, the ACLU and the public defender’s office, the city Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban the robots a week after they voted 8-3 to allow them to be used in select instances, the Washington Examiner reported.
San Francisco police officials consistently said the robots would not be equipped with firearms, but rather explosives, and simply used as a “last resort option.”
“The use of robots in potentially deadly force situations is a last resort option. We live in a time when unthinkable mass violence is becoming more commonplace. We need the option to be able to save lives in the event we have that type of tragedy in our city,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said in a statement last week after the initial measure was passed.
The measure became necessary following a newly enacted state law that requires police and sheriff’s departments to be explicitly authorized to store and use military-grade materials, the Examiner reported.
SFPD previously acquired robots but has never used them to deploy lethal explosives.
In 2016 the Dallas Police Department deployed a robot to deliver and detonate explosives where a mass murderer was holed up. Police were in a standoff with the gunman who killed five police officers and left seven others wounded.
The death of the Dallas shooting suspect marked the first time U.S. law enforcement officers used a robot to neutralize a mass murderer, according to experts.