San Francisco Police Department proposal could allow cops to use robots to kill suspects

A San Francisco police proposal could give police officers in the city the ability to kill suspects with remote-controlled robots.

A draft policy detailing the controversial proposal says lethal force by robots would be allowed where there was a deadly threat to police officers of the public, local outlets reported this week.

“Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when the threat of death to members of the public or officials is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to the SFPD,” part of the policy reads, according to Mission Local news agency.

Dedicated operators, who would need to undergo training, can operate the unmanned and remote-controlled robots according to the draft policy.

If the draft policy is passed, the robots could be used in arrests, critical incidents, warrant execution and “suspicious device assessments,” the draft policy also states.

The Rules Committee, which reviewed the proposal, voted to submit it to the board of directors for consideration at a Tuesday meeting.

A San Francisco Police Department patch.
Police have reportedly never used a robot to kill.
San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Critics, including Tifanei Moyer, a senior attorney with the San Francisco Bay Area Attorneys’ Committee on Civil Rights, slammed the proposal.

“We live in a dystopian future where we are debating whether police can use robots to execute citizens without a trial, jury or judge,” Moyer told Mission Local.

Moyer added in an email to the outlet, “No attorney or ordinary resident should carry on as if it were normal.”

The department has 17 robots, but none have ever been used to attack a person, a police spokesman reportedly said.

Dallas police used a robot to kill a suspect accused of killing five police officers in a shooting in 2016.

Oakland Police Department declined to make a similar proposal that would allow them to use lethal robots after initially pitching the idea, Mission Local reported. San Francisco Police Department proposal could allow cops to use robots to kill suspects


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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