San Francisco Activists Block the Use of Lethal Drones by City Police

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by Eleanor Levine, December 7, 2022

With the horrendous number of police murders of innocent people in this country, it’s incredible that the city would give the police permission to murder suspects with armed aerial drones.       [editor]

San Francisco supervisors have walked back their approval of a controversial policy that would have allowed police to kill some suspects with robots in extreme cases.  Instead of granting final authorization to the policy Tuesday in its second of two required votes, the Board of Supervisors reversed course and voted 8-3 to explicitly prohibit police from using remote-controlled robots with lethal force. It was a rare step: The board’s second votes on local laws are typically formalities that don’t change anything. But the board’s initial approval of the deadly robot policy last week sparked a wave of public outcry from community members and progressive supervisors who threatened to go to the ballot if their colleagues did not change their minds on Tuesday.

After approving a new version of the police policy that bans officers from using robots to kill dangerous suspects such as mass shooters and suicide bombers, supervisors separately sent the original deadly-robot provision of the policy back for further review. The board’s Rules Committee may now choose to refine that provision — placing tighter limits on when police can use bomb-bearing robots with deadly force — or abandon it entirely, leaving in place the prohibition passed Tuesday.

The fight is part of a larger Bay Area conflict about how to balance public safety with modern technology while safeguarding civil liberties. In September, San Francisco supervisors approved a controversial policy to let police temporarily monitor live surveillance feeds in some cases, despite critics who thought it trampled on privacy rights.  The robot policy was put forward because of a new state law, AB481, that requires law enforcement agencies to get approval from local governing bodies on how they use military-grade weapons. AB481 was authored by City Attorney David Chiu when he was still serving in the state Assembly.  Police have said they wanted to use robots to kill only in extremely rare cases with violent suspects, as Dallas police did in 2016 after someone fatally shot five officers.

Local actions matter!!!!  SF nixes another attempt to militarize its police. … YAY!!!

S.F. halts ‘killer robots’ police policy after huge backlash — for now

*Featured Image: 7 years ago, North Dakota passed a resolution allowing police to use armed drones. However, they are not allowed to deliver lethal force. This latter was the issue in San Francisco.

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