Dec 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

San Francisco temporarily bans police robots from using lethal force

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office uses a robot similar to one the SFPD owns. Photo: Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to temporarily ban the use of robots as a deadly force option.

Driving the news: The decision marks a reversal from last week, when supervisors voted 8-3 to approve the controversial policy.

The big picture: The legislation would have allowed police to use remote-controlled robots for deadly force "when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available," as stated in the draft policy.

Details: Supervisors Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman and Catherine Stefani were the only supervisors against it.

  • Since the city's charter requires the board to vote on the same legislation twice, it will return to them for another vote next week.

Yes, but: The Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee will reevaluate the robot use of force policy in future hearings.

  • Meanwhile, supervisors approved the rest of the ordinance that defines how the San Francisco Police Department can use robots and other military-style weapons.

What they're saying: "We just stopped the use of killer robots in SF," Supervisor Hillary Ronen said in a tweet. "Complete reversal from last week. Common sense prevailed."

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