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Actually, the Debate Over Police Use of ‘Killer Robots’ Isn’t Over

Written by Mike Kuba, Sophie BearmanContributors Mike EgePublished Dec. 06, 2022 • 4:09pm

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The nation has been buzzing about a decision last week to allow San Francisco’s police department to use deadly robots, equipped with explosives, to kill dangerous suspects.

However, the policy was sent back to committee by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, in a 8-3 vote, on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

An alternate version of the policy, which precluded the use of deadly force by police robots currently used for bomb disposal and surveillance, was passed unanimously. The original policy approved in a first vote last week will now be reexamined at the Rules Committee. 

Mayor London Breed had signaled her support for the original proposal, which is part of a larger policy governing police use of special and military equipment. 

The debate over the use of the robots for lethal force has become contentious, with a handful of legislators vehemently opposing the measure and protests taking place in San Francisco. Those opposed believe the policy would give the San Francisco Police Department too much power, which they fear will be abused. 

San Francisco Police Department officers observe a protest against “killer robots” at San Francisco City Hall on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

On the other hand, those supporting the legislation have pointed to the proliferation of mass shootings across the country, and the successful deployment of a killer robot in Dallas, Texas, as reason enough to employ the potentially life-saving technology.

In two minutes, we break down the debate for you in our video explainer. Take a look.

English

Mike Kuba can be reached at [email protected]
Sophie Bearman can be reached at [email protected]


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