According to the Intercept, Oakland coppers are debating if they should be allowed to kill people with shotgun-armed robots.
Like many things in the US, the debate ended up not with the police changing their mind on the idea, but to change the wording of the demand at least for now.
The department said it will continue to pursue lethal options. When asked whether the Oakland Police Department will continue to advocate for language that would allow killer robots under certain emergency circumstances, Lt. Omar Daza-Quiroz, who represented the department in discussions over the authorised robot use policy, told The Intercept, “Yes, we are looking into that and doing more research at this time.”
So in other words, the police are not immediately going to launch terminators on black people but they are going to investigate the idea.
The cunning plan came up at the a meeting of an Oakland Police Commission subcommittee, a civilian oversight council addressing what rules should govern the use of the city’s arsenal of military-grade police equipment. According to California state law, police must seek approval from a local governing body, like a city council, to determine permissible uses of military equipment or weapons like stun grenades and drones.
For two hours the committee looked at the Oakland police’s stable of robots and their accessories. One such accessory is the gun-shaped “percussion actuated nonelectric disruptor,” a favorite tool of bomb squads at home and at war. The PAN disruptor affixes to a robot and directs an explosive force — typically a blank shotgun shell or pressurized water — at suspected bombs while human operators remain at a safe distance.
While describing the safety precautions taken while using the PAN disruptor, Daza-Quiroz told the subcommittee that the department takes special care to ensure that it is in fact a blank round loaded into the robot’s gun. Jennifer Tu, a fellow with the American Friends Service Committee and member of the Oakland Police Commission subcommittee on militarised policing, to ask: “Can a live round physically go in, and what happens if a live round goes in?”
“Yeah, physically a live round can go in,” Daza-Quiroz answered. “Absolutely. And you’d be getting a shotgun round.”
After a brief silence, Commissioner Jesse Hsieh asked the next question: “Does the department plan on using a live round in the robot PAN disruptor?”
Daza-Quiroz said that there were hypothetical scenarios where a shotgun-armed robot might be useful to police.
“I mean, is it possible we have an active shooter in a place we can’t get to? And he’s fortified inside a house? Or we’re trying to get to a person — We’ll only use it in emergencies — but we get to decide what’s an emergency."