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SFPD may resubmit proposal for 'killer robots' after policy was blocked, reigniting debate

ABC 7 San Francisco 2/2/2023 KGO

Robots with the ability to use deadly force may be back on the agenda in San Francisco.

There was an uproar over the idea just a few months ago that got national attention.

SFPD drafted a policy to allow lethally-armed robots to be used in "extreme" cases where violent suspects pose an immediate risk to life.

RELATED: San Francisco cancels plans for 'killer police robots'

Initially, the robots were approved but the Board of Supervisors ended up blocking the policy.

During Wednesday night's police commission meeting, the idea was floated again.

"And when you're looking at these remotely piloted vehicles they're actually probably more precise than any of our other force options in that we won't accidentally get a bystander or we might not hit another vehicle this will go directly to whoever the gunman is in this prolonged attack," Asja Steeves from SFPD said. "So I think we are still interested in resubmitting our proposal, but right now we have an approved ordinance that has a use-of-force option and in all of the times we've had it we've never needed to use it in the way in which we proposed through the process."

Some spoke out in public comment against the killer robots. Gloria Berry, a member of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, alluded to the recent Tyre Nichols case.

"This is too soon, it's triggering, it's painful, that you're discussing which ways to kill us," she said. "How maybe an officer could be protected by having the robot kill us instead of the officer. Bringing in military equipment, come on now, have some sensitivity to people."

There was no timeline given for when the proposal might be revisited.

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