Robot dogs stir heated debate in LA City Council

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“If you want to spark a frothy conversation in Los Angeles, there's two reliably evergreen topics: law enforcement and animals. This brought them together,” says Jon Regardie of the robot dog debate in the LA City Council. Photo by Shutterstock.

Robot dogs made headlines in New York and San Francisco, as those police departments added them to their forces. In NY’s case, the strong public backlash caused the department to return its dog. 

Now the LAPD and the LA City Council are mulling over the donation of a robot dog, and the debate raged during a recent meeting of the city council’s public safety committee. 

The robots come from a company called Boston Dynamics, where the slogan on their website says, “Changing your idea of what robots can do.” 

Jon Regardie, who has been covering all things robot dog for LA Magazine, says of the heated meeting, “There was a long public comment period where dozens of people called in and said, ‘Do not accept this.’ There were fears that this would lead to a militarization of the Los Angeles Police Department. There were concerns about surveillance. A lot of people said, ‘Hey, this will be unfairly deployed in Black and Brown communities.’ And caller after caller urged them to say, no.”

However, he adds, “I would be surprised if it is rejected when it does finally appear before the full council.”