SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The chief of the San Francisco Police Department said the story has become “distorted” following a vote Tuesday not to authorize the department to use lethal force robots. In a statement sent to KRON4, SFPD Chief William Scott said the department wants “to use robots to save lives – not take them,” and that “this is about neutralizing a threat by equipping a robot with a lethal option.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to approve use of robots authorized to use lethal force last week. However, following a widespread public backlash, the board took another vote on Tuesday, choosing not to authorize use of the robots — for now.

According to Scott, the narrative around the debate “is a distraction from the real issue, which is having the tools necessary to prevent loss of innocent lives in an active shooter or mass casualty incident.”

Scott points out that mass casualty incidents have become commonplace and that “anyone that thinks that San Francisco is immune from these unthinkable tragedies is wrong.” According to Scott, the robots would represent a “last case scenario” to avoid “sending an officer on a suicide mission.”

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This is Chief Scott’s statement in full:

“Active shooters and mass casualty incidents have become commonplace. Anyone that thinks that San Francisco is immune from these unthinkable tragedies is wrong. The San Francisco Police Department holds no higher imperative than our promise to protect those we are sworn to safeguard, and our highest priority is the preservation and sanctity of human life. However, part of our job is to prepare for the unthinkable – and to not prepare for the unthinkable would be irresponsible.   

No policy can anticipate every conceivable situation or exceptional circumstance which officers may face. We must be prepared, and have the ability, to respond appropriately. We cannot be limited in how we are able to respond if and when the worst-case scenario incident occurs in San Francisco.  

Public and political discourse is necessary for policy development. Our elected officials must have the information necessary to make an informed decision. The SFPD prides itself on transparency and accountability. We not only welcome, but invite questions, concerns, and honest debate on real issues.  

This story has been become distorted and the narrative being driven is a distraction from the real issue, which is having the tools necessary to prevent loss of innocent lives in an active shooter or mass casualty incident.  

We want to use our robots to save lives – not take them. To be sure, this is about neutralizing a threat by equipping a robot with a lethal option as a last case scenario, not sending an officer in on a suicide mission.”