The Dallas Police Department’s unprecedented use of an explosive-laden robot to kill an armed suspect ushers in a new phase in the militarization of U.S. police departments.
The tactic illustrates what police see as the new opportunities for self-defense presented by advancing technologies and the transfer of second-hand military equipment to local police departments.
But it also raises difficult ethical questions about how and when such technologies should be deployed in a civilian setting to allow police to kill a suspect while facing little or no risk. (source)
A kind of drone (another word for robot) essentially dropped a bomb on an American citizen. A civilian.
In some ways, we have entered a new era because clearly other police departments are impressed with the result and already have the equipment.
The reasoning will be to end an active shooter situation without further loss of life.
Think about it: It's a first. It seems we have crossed a kind of Rubicon here similar, in some ways, to other firsts such as the first use of gunpowder, the Gatling gun, or the atomic bomb.
Sounds scary, perhaps, but there may be upsides. Imagine an American with streets patrolled by robocops. Think about the recent shooting of a black driver in Minnesota. An officer, perhaps fearful of young black males, suspecting (imagining) that the driver was about to produce a weapon, opened fire. Substitute a robot. No fear for its life. No attitudes regarding black men. No nervousness or jumpiness. No itchy trigger finger. It might have turned out much differently. Even if the driver was a bad guy. What would be the point of shooting? It's a fucking robot.
“The further we remove the officer from the use of force and the consequences that come with it, the easier it becomes to use that tactic,” said Rick Nelson, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former counterterrorism official on the National Security Council. “It’s what we have done with drones in warfare.”
“In warfare, your object is to kill,” he added. “Law enforcement has a different mission.”
Other law enforcement officials supported the decision, suggesting they could take a similar approach if the situation called for it. At a news conference on Friday, New York’s police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said that while he was waiting to find out precisely what the Dallas police did, “we have that capability.” (source)
He was cornered and wasn't actively shooting. We need rules to know when it's okay to just go ahead and kill a perp who isn't actively killing or holding a hostage. Do we now just go ahead and kill bad people? Do we end a car chase by blowing up the car with a missile shot by a drone in the sky the way we kill terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan?
BTW, CNN showed how they did it. It's probably not how you imagined. They brought the ROV (technically, it's not a robot) to the other side of the wall behind him and blew up the wall. He was killed by bits and chunks of wall hitting him at supersonic speed.
He still had constitutional rights. Do we want police to be judge, jury, and executioner as they seem to have been with the shooting in Minnesota a few days ago?
He gave up those rights when he starting shooting people.
But don't be stupid, stay on your meds and you won't be shot by the police.
Well actually...you can stay on your meds and easily get shot by the police...especially if you are a black guy going through a bad episode on the street and walk towards a policeman with anything that could remotely be described as looking like a "gun" or an action that remotely seemed like "reaching for a gun" (documented afterwards)...assuming no citizen has recorded it on their god damn pesky smart phone.
Unseen has a good point about those who escalate a situation because it is a dificult one. The best of the police are supposed to de-escalate a situation, not have a carte blanche to do whatever they want because someone "played with fire" or because one of the victims was related to them by occupation.
People don't get off their meds because they are stupid. They get off their meds because the side effects of the meds are worse (from their perspective if not ours) than being off them. And don't assume that a bipolar or schizoid person on meds is fully normal. They generally aren't and often still aren't thinking straight. I know: I have a bipolar nephew and I've been with him when he's not thinking straight.
At the same time, I can't blame an officer for shooting an individual who is disobeying an instruction to stay back and not approach, for example. A knife or handgun can come out and do fatal damage in an instant. In fact, a well-trained person with no weapon at all can kill a police officer. Even a well-trained officer can encounter someone better trained than himself. E.g., an ex-Navy SEAL.
Sometimes shit just happens.
We can't prevent all encounters from going South, but we can minimize them.
In the case we are discussing, though, waiting him out was an option. Killing him outright feels to me like revenge for the death of the five officers and not an appropriate action.
At the same time, I'm not for prosecuting the police chief. I just feel this new tactic deserves a discussion and the institution of some rules for when its use is appropriate. I would save it for an active shooter situation when all other options are gone.
More of a Radio Controlled Small Vehicle with a camera, not really a robot or drone.
Like a drone aircraft, it is largely controlled by a human, especially when it comes to discharging a weapon. So, the parallel is more like the ROV's they use to discover and explore shipwrecks than with RoboCop or Judge Dredd.
I find it telling that the first person to be killed by a police operated drone was a black man. The Dallas police would have so much more credibility on this if their first assassination by robot had been white. I guess if you're black and cornered, negotiating beyond two lousy,stinking hours is too much of an imposition on the police. This is sad because, apparently, Dallas police had made some reforms and were improving their community relations.
If any consolation, it was a black robot.
Again, the police already HAVE the right to use lethal force.
In a fantasy perfect world...the guy shooting at other people would stop when the police arrive, and proceed to a trial.
In real life, the police have the RESPONSIBILITY to remove the threat. You can't, realistically expect a lull, to reload, negotiate, or whatever, to be the same as "well, he's no longer a threat...I guess we can walk in and peaceably arrest him now.."
If the guy HAD asked for a sandwich, yes, they would have offered to send in food for him and hostages, maybe see if he'd let them remove the wounded, etc.
But, the guy expressed that he just wanted to kill more cops, so, cops walking in was a bad idea. It did not MATTER that he had stopped shooting cops, because he only stopped because he ran out of cops to shoot w/o GETTING shot himself.
It was, at that point, a stand off.
He was EXPECTED to make a last stand and go out in a blaze of glory, taking as many with him as he could, based upon the info they had to that point.
A metal cop was a good idea...as it limited his blaze of glory to himself.
Again, the KEY concept here is that when the cop would be justified in SHOOTING the bad guy, its assumed that the guy is not going peacefully.
So, as Davis et al mentioned as well, bad cops, bad training, etc...JUST AS WITH SHOOTINGS, would be reflected in bombings or attack drones or whatever.
To me at least, the important part is NOT the method used to apply the hereafter shave...a bullet a bomb or a sledge hammer, no matter; its the REASON it needs to be applied in the first place, being justified.
We already allow this justification to shoot them.
Again, the police already HAVE the right to use lethal force.
Of course, but for each kind of force, there are rules. This is a new kind of force and stands in need of rules. When someone is actively shooting, lethal force is allowed. However, when someone is cornered and no longer shooting, I don't think lethal force is generally allowed.
Bombing people is a tactic which has so far been restricted to war, unless you know otherwise. How about someone running from police? Would it be okay to take them out with a missile?
What about other tactics like poisoning the perp? Would that be okay?
Again - if it was OK to SHOOT them, after that, its like asking what calibers are OK, etc.
SPECIFICALLY, for poison, if the bad guys suspect that the food MIGHT be poisoned, they would simply have a hostage eat some first, etc...so, poison is not a good idea for practical reasons.
If no hostages, or no danger to others, let the guy starve to death instead of shooting him, etc.
The risk that the bad guy may make a dash for it like in The Sundance Kid, etc...though, typically means they don't take that chance.
Same shooting a leg or arm, etc...you are trained to shoot to kill. Most cops are lucky to hit center of mass shots under pressure....some shoot outs might have dozens of rounds go off with neither good OR bad guys hitting anything, let alone getting precision shots to targeted limbs to incapacitate an attacker, etc.