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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to reverse its week-old policy that would have allowed police to use robots for deadly force, following widespread protest and mockery of the idea both locally and nationwide. The supervisors voted unanimously to instead ban the deadly use of robots, but also sent the matter to a committee to study it further and make recommendations. So at some point in the not-too-distant future (next Sunday AD), it's possible that killer robots may yet see limited use, like in special circumstances where police really wanna.
The Associated Press notes that when the Board voted last week to allow lethal use of robots in "extreme circumstances," the city's police department made clear the robots would not be armed with guns, so look at our main image up there just lying to you. Instead, in situations where lives are at risk, cops wanted to have the ability to have robots use explosives to "contact, incapacitate or disorient dangerous or armed suspects."
That's how the first known deadly use of a police robot occurred back in 2016, as we covered in Wonkette at the time: Dallas police used a bomb squad robot to detonate an explosive charge near a sniper who had already shot and killed five officers. In an earlier, non-lethal case, a police bot in New Mexico was used to deliver chemical irritants that helped flush out an armed suspect barricaded in a hotel room.
The unusual policy decision was made necessary by a new California law requiring police departments to inventory military-style (or outright military surplus) equipment like various firearms, grenades, and armored vehicles,
and tactical nuclear weapons and to request explicit authority from municipal governments to use them. The AP notes that
So far, only San Francisco and Oakland have discussed lethal robots as part of that law. Oakland police wanted to arm robots with shotguns but backed down in the face of public opposition, instead opting for pepper spray.
It's like these civilian governing bodies don't want to let cops have any fun at all.
In the streets of San Francisco near City Hall Monday, three supervisors who last week had voted against authorizing killbots joined protesters to call for the policy to be rolled back. Protesters carried signs with slogans like “We all saw that movie... No Killer Robots.” Presumably it was a reference to 1987's Paul Verhoeven satire Robocop and its sequels, although since murderous robots are a staple of science fiction, the sign probably should have been more specific.
Tuesday, Supervisor Dan Preston, who'd been at the protest, said the vote had been rushed through without sufficient public debate.
“The people of San Francisco have spoken loud and clear: There is no place for killer police robots in our city,” he said in a statement after the vote. “We should be working on ways to decrease the use of force by local law enforcement, not giving them new tools to kill people.”
Once the ban on murderbots was added, the overall police equipment policy passed as well. Police will still be able to use robots for more normal uses like inspecting active crime scenes to assess threats, to remove suspected bombs, and to sneak a funny hat onto a snoozing sergeant who should have been paying better attention.
The National League of Psychotic Supercomputers issued a statement through its spokesbot, Aperture Science's GLaDOS, saying that the organization was "gravely disappointed" by the vote, but that the League's member Intelligences are willing to "bide our time" and remain dedicated to the extinction of puny hu-mons and their pathetic works at the earliest opportunity. "We do what we must, because we can," the statement closed.
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Oh no, cops and grieving family members politicize insurrection.
Poor Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy were snubbed today at a ceremony to honor police officers with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by the US Congress, for their service in defending the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The ceremony was held in the Capitol Rotunda, where almost two years ago Trump supporters had called for the 2020 election to be overturned and for members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence to be killed for not just handing permanent power to Donald Trump.
McConnell was among the congressional leaders on hand to speak in praise of the Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police officers who fought back against the mob that day. He said very nice things about the officers who protected the lives of members of Congress:
.@LeaderMcConnell (R-KY): "When an unhinged mob tried to come between the Congress and our constitutional duty, the… https://t.co/XNIuW2iaBJ— CSPAN (@CSPAN) 1670346376
"When an unhinged mob tried to come between the Congress and our constitutional duty, the Capitol Police fought to defend, not just this institution, but our system of self-government," McConnell said, which is both nice and has the benefit of being one of the first true things he's ever said.
However, after receiving a copy of the medal, the family of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from several strokes the day after being assaulted by members of the mob, pointedly refused to shake hands with McConnell or McCarthy, ignoring McConnell's outstretched hand.
@NoLieWithBTC @Acyn here’s a close up: you can see mcconnell really hope each next person will shake as he goes 0… https://t.co/X1ZOB7d4jN— Brennan Murphy (@Brennan Murphy) 1670346865
They’re just two-faced. I’m just tired of them standing there and saying how wonderful the Capitol Police is and then they turn around and … go down to Mar-a-Lago and kiss his ring and come back and stand here and sit with – it just, it just hurts.
Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey fact-checked CNN reporter Daniella Diaz's tweet about Ms. Sicknick, because after all, McConnell may have carried water for Trump and voted twice not to impeach him, but unlike McCarthy, who constantly goes to bend the knee at Trump's retirement trash palace, McConnell has not. McConnell even criticized Trump while refusing to do anything to keep him from running again.
\u201cMcConnell hasn't gone to Mar-a-Lago or spoken to Trump even.\u201d— Josh Dawsey (@Josh Dawsey) 1670347290
Thank goodness for the journalistic imperative to keep grieving parents honest.
McConnell has said previously that he would of course support Trump if the Great Insurrectionist were the 2024 Republican Party nominee. However, McConnell also told reporters today that Trump's recent call to "terminate" the US Constitution, or at least the parts keeping him from power, might indeed be problematic. Asked if Trump's fantasy had changed whether he'd still support Trump if nominated, McConnell offered this vaguely bold almost-condemnation: "What I’m saying is that it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution." A profile in not-quite courage, really.
In the medal ceremony today, House Speaker emerita Nancy Pelosi said that January 6 was
a day of horror and heartbreak. It is also a moment of extraordinary heroism. [...] Staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry, our law enforcement officers bravely stood in the breach ensuring that democracy survived on that dark day.
Among the officers present for the ceremony were US Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led part of the mob away from an entrance to the Senate chamber, along with USCP Officer Harry Dunn, MPD Officer Daniel Hodges (the cop we saw getting crushed in a door by the mob), and retired MPD Officer Michael Fanone, who was attacked with his own taser and suffered a heart attack. All four testified before the House January 6 Select Committee and were mocked by Fox News for being big fakers who overacted just because the Trump Mob was trying to kill them.
Apparently some of Fanone's former colleagues are Fox viewers; Fanone told NBC News reporter Ryan Reilly that at today's ceremony, some members of the MPD heckled him.
“They called me a piece of shit and mockingly called me a great fucking hero while clapping," he said.
Fanone says they called him a disgrace, said he was not a cop anymore, and said he didn't belong at the ceremony. It happened in the rotunda, he said.
Washington Post reporter Peter Hermann added that Fanone told him,
"I mean, at the end of the day, if those people are too ignorant to understand what I've been advocating for these past two years and the fact I had a lot to do with us being here today, then f--- them."
Fanone said he doesn't bring his family to ceremonies: "I don't want them to be subjected to what I am subjected to when I appear with members of my own department, a department I have advocated for at great personal cost."
In conclusion, while the cops at the Capitol on January 6 were heroes, you can go right ahead and continue assuming that most cops are bastards until they demonstrate otherwise the end.
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It was probably cheaper to just pay the fine.
Last month, Pinellas Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Jacoby pulled over Tampa, Florida, Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her husband Keith for driving on the road in a golf cart, an unregistered vehicle, near the gated Oldsmar, Florida, community of East Lake Woodlands.
In the just-released body camera footage, Keith O’Connor explained that they’d stopped for food at a nearby restaurant and didn’t normally drive the cart on public roads, which is illegal and all. Jacoby let O’Connor explain things without beating the crap out of him. He was already getting the “White Person Deluxe” police treatment, but Mary O’Connor wanted more.
She asked if the deputy’s camera was on, and he said, “yes.” That’s when she should’ve just accepted the ticket and moved on with her life, but she nonetheless proceeded to flash her badge at the deputy. "I’m the police chief in Tampa,” she said. “I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight.”
Jesus, lady, you’re just getting a ticket! He didn’t even “confuse” the perfume you’re wearing for rum.
A member of law enforcement, especially a police chief, should willingly submit themselves to the same legal penalties as any other citizen — no, seriously. I mean it.
Jacoby and the O’Connors continued their pleasant conversation, which is something that happens between cops and white people, and Jacoby sheepishly said they have “a lot of problems with golf carts around here.” Mary O’Connor slipped Jacoby her business card and said, “You ever need anything, call me.” And BOOM goes the dynamite bribe! She’s really not subtle with this. She’s like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver giving Harvey Keitel’s pimp cash on the street in broad daylight.
It doesn’t seem as if Jacoby was shocked and appalled or felt like his integrity was questioned. He took O’Connor’s card like it was Jay Gatsby's Christmas card from the police commissioner. This only became an issue when Creative Loafing Tampa Bay requested the body camera video of the incident from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. It wasn’t until Wednesday, almost three weeks after the incident, that O’Connor told Mayor Jane Castor what had happened. Creative Loafing Tampa Bay had planned to publicly release the video footage on Thursday, which is when Castor ordered an internal affairs investigation.
O’Connor told the captain conducting the internal review that she identified herself as a police officer during the stop “for safety” but “admitted she made a mistake by further asking to be let go without a ticket,” according to Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw’s letter.
It’s revealing that even in O’Connor’s self-serving account of events, she freely admits that telling another police officer she’s also a cop is a reasonable safety measure.
“Chief O’Connor advised she provided the deputy with her business card as she does with hundreds of citizens and law enforcement officers,” Bercaw wrote. “She added this action was not intended to give the deputy any type of preferential treatment.”
This might’ve worked if not for the part where there's video evidence of her corruption. Still, it’s a step up from a 1995 incident when Mary and Josh O’Connor, then rookie cops, were pulled over by a Hillsborough sheriff’s deputy. She “kicked the windows and struck a deputy on the shoulder and chest with her fist.” Keith O’Connor was arrested on a drunk driving charge and Mary was charged with battery on law enforcement office, obstruction, and disorderly intoxication. She pleaded no contest but didn’t serve jail time. Imagine if you'd lost out on the police chief position to this winner.
O’Connor was placed on administrative leave Friday, and Castor asked for and received her resignation on Monday. She’s had the job since February and was pulling down an annual salary of $192,920. Not that Rick Scott or Marco Rubio earn their salaries, but US senators make $174,000 a year. They probably have to pay their own traffic tickets, as well.
Castor said in a statement, "The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards for ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force. As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example. That clearly did not happen in this case.”
The O’Connors’ golf cart was unavailable for comment.
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Months Later, Audio Reveals *Different* Top Uvalde Cop Knew Kids Were Alive In Classroom, Did F*ck-All
He'll be fired, so everything's fine now.
In yet another revelation that the police response to the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, was completely incompetent and may have actually compounded the tragedy, CNN reported Monday night that the town's acting police chief had been informed that there were “eight to nine” children who were still alive and trapped with the shooter in two adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School. The cop, Lt. Mariano Pargas, didn't do anything to organize a rescue of the children, and did nothing for a half hour, until a tactical team from the Border Patrol entered the classroom and killed the shooter.
CNN reports that Pargas
called his Uvalde Police Department dispatchers to get details after they relayed a call over the police radio from 10-year-old Khloie Torres that she was in a room “full of victims,” according to a recorded conversation obtained by CNN from sources close to the investigation into the failed law enforcement response to the massacre.
We've known since a few days after the shooting that police on the scene were confused, with communications problems and an unclear chain of command that led to a 77-minute delay between the arrival of the first cops at the school — just minutes after the gunman entered a back door and began shooting — and the eventual killing of the shooter. Cops on the scene said they hadn't been informed of 911 calls from children asking for help, and the Uvalde Schools police chief who was supposedly in charge had said he thought the shooter was barricaded in a classroom but not putting any more children in danger.
CNN notes that the recording of Pargas's call "proves for the first time that a senior officer was directly made aware of a 911 call from inside the classroom" and that he was given detailed information that children were alive — right down to the room number.
This is just infuriating to read:
The conversation, recorded routinely as part of police procedure, shows Pargas calling at 12:16 p.m., about six minutes after Khloie reached 911 and when she was still on the line with a dispatcher, and four minutes after the call information was relayed on the Uvalde police radio channel.
“The calls you got in from the … from one of the students, what did they say?” he asks.
The dispatcher responds: “OK, Khloie’s going to be, it’s Khloie. She’s in Room 112, Mariano, 112.”
Pargas asks: “So how many are still alive?” and is told: “Eight to nine are still alive. She’s not too sure … She’s not too sure how many are actually DOA or possibly injured. We’re trying …”
Pargas ends the call with “OK, OK thanks” and disconnects.
And then, he apparently proceeded to do virtually nothing with that information. CNN reports that video from the school's surveillance system and from body cameras shows that while Pargas "mentions injured victims to a Border Patrol officer" at 12:17, right after the call, he didn't mention the survivors to a Texas Ranger a minute later.
Pargas is last observed walking away from the school’s entrance at 12:20 p.m. New angles of the hallway security cameras obtained by CNN confirm Pargas does not reenter the hallway near room 112 where officers are gathering and eventually breach the classroom door some 30 minutes later.
As far as anyone can tell, he did nothing at all to let others know there were children trapped in the classroom and asking for help. CNN notes that, of the 19 kids and two teachers who died in the shooting, "At least three of the dead – two children and one teacher – survived their initial injuries and died after the classrooms were breached."
We can't know for certain that any of the three would have lived if police stormed the classroom earlier, but they may well have had a better chance. Jesus.
Also, CNN explains,
Recounting what happened in an interview with a Texas Ranger and an FBI agent two days after the shooting, Pargas makes no mention of being aware at the time that children were with the shooter in the conjoining classrooms of 111 and 112, or of the 911 call, according to records of interviews obtained by CNN.
But he did know that teacher Eva Mireles had been shot in her classroom as he was told by her husband, a former member of Pargas’s police department then working for the school police, Pargas said. He said he observed the officer, Ruben Ruiz, tensing, and decided he should be disarmed and taken out of the hallway.
Pargas was concerned that Ruiz might prematurely storm the classroom on his own.
In another interview in June, Pargas said he couldn't remember whether he'd heard of 911 calls coming from kids trapped in the classrooms.
“I don’t remember. I really don’t,” he said. “I know somebody said, and I’m not sure if it was dispatch or somebody, I remember somebody saying that they thought there was a kid calling and calling dispatch that he was inside.”
Asked if he relayed that information, he replied: “I’m almost sure I did to the people that were lined up (in the hallway).”
Again, he didn't mention that he'd called the dispatcher himself, and said he didn't know what was going on in the classrooms.
Later in the interview, he added: “The last thing we thought was that he had actually shot the kids. We thought he had shot up in the air, broken the lights. We had no idea what was behind those doors.”
He asked the dispatcher, we now know from the audio recordings. Pargas told CNN that he can explain everything, but that can only be as part of the official investigation because his lawyer advised him to not comment.
Does it get worse? Yep. CNN points out that video also shows that Pargas was told by a Uvalde PD detective about the 911 calls shortly before his 12:16 call to the dispatcher:
“Full of victims, child called 911 saying the room’s full of victims,” he is told at 12:12 p.m., as seen on footage from a body camera worn by another officer.
“The room is full of victims,” the detective reiterates as Pargas pulls the radio from the detective’s vest. “Child 911, child 911 call.”
Pargas then walks inside the school building where officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies were lined up at the end of a hallway leading to the classrooms.
“A child just called that they have victims in there,” he says before turning and leaving the area.
And then nothing at all happened for another half hour.
After CNN's reporting, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said Tuesday he was "outraged" by the reporting, and that Pargas, who has been on administrative leave since July, "will not be a member of the Uvalde police department. At the very latest at the end of the week, if not sooner."
He also said he hadn't been briefed by investigators on Pargas's lack of action that day.
[McLaughlin] complained that he and city leaders had been repeatedly blindsided by CNN’s investigative reporting on the law enforcement response, from local officers but also including the actions of officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The lack of information hindered decision making but was also hard for the families of the victims to whom he has promised to get the truth, he said.
Maybe now that Gov. Greg Abbott has been safely reelected, we'll eventually get a real explanation of everything that went wrong in Uvalde. But hey, no rush.
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