LA City Council OKs ‘robot dog’ for police amid criticism

  • A "robot dog" will assist Los Angeles police in high-risk situations
  • Supporters say Spot will be used for recon and can help save lives
  • Critics argue the dog will be used to spy or target communities of color

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — The Los Angeles Police Department’s newest member is a four-legged “robot dog,” after the LA City Council voted 8-4 to approve its acquisition, despite criticism from the public ahead of the vote.

The LAPD said the programmed pup can help save lives, but critics worry it will be used for spying.

The robot, a quadruped unmanned ground vehicle nicknamed Spot, is manufactured by Boston Dynamics and is valued at nearly $280,000. It’s a donation from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a nonprofit that says it’s geared toward supporting the LAPD.

Spot will not be equipped with any weapons systems, facial recognition software, or analysis capabilities, officials said. It will also not be used for routine patrol duties or covert surveillance operations.

The LAPD said the robot dog would have capabilities to help the department in high-risk situations such as:

  • Active shooting
  • Assessments of explosives
  • Hostage situations
  • Natural disasters
  • Hazardous materials assessments
  • Barricaded subjects
  • Search-and-rescue missions

“This technology will allow us to better protect our officers and the community, allowing us to use modern technology to de-escalate dangerous situations,” said LAPD Chief Michael Moore.

Critics, however, feel this is a violation of their privacy, and they’ve raised questions about whether this artificial intelligence will be used to spy on them or to target minority communities.

Activists have protested the move for months, and they appeared at Tuesday’s council hearing to voice their opposition, NewsNation affiliate KTLA reported.

The LAPD’s move follows similar initiatives by several agencies, including the New York Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police and the St. Petersburg Police Department in Florida.

In 2021, the NYPD canceled the use of its robot after backlash, but a robotic dog reportedly joined the force last month.

Last year, the New York City Fire Department used robot dogs to assist with search-and-rescue missions. San Francisco canceled a plan last year to allow police robots to use lethal force.

The LAPD plans to start using the robot following training and testing protocols in the coming months.


© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Group Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation