An inventory of SFPD's Killdozers

How much military-style equipment does the SFPD really need, and for what?

It's been quite a while since the San Francisco Police Department has had to deal with a highly armed militia or gang of robbers and kidnappers heavily barricaded in a second-floor room and refusing to surrender. I'm not sure it's happened even once in the 40 years I've been a reporter in this city.

But if that were ever to be a problem, the SFPD is ready: The department has a Lenco BearCat with a Patriot 3 Liberator Ramp System. That's a mine-resistant armed vehicle that can carry 12 fully equipped officers and includes an 11-foot battering ram and a special tactical ramp that can lift a cadre of cops up to a second story to mount a massive assault. [...]

Among the other items on the department inventory:

A CTS 4340 OC Liquid Barricade shell that can be fired from what amounts to a mortar; it's designed to penetrate a window or wall and excrete "irritant agents." [...]

A Powder Barricade that does much the same thing.

Flash-bang grenades, which are, the cops say, an explosive device that produces a blinding flash of light and a sudden, loud noise intended to temporarily stun, distract, and disperse people and it is thrown by hand or projected.

A bunch of spy robots:

IRobot FirstLook is a throwable, rugged, and expandable robot that provides immediate situational awareness, performs persistent observation, and investigates dangerous and hazardous material while keeping its operator out of harm's way. [...] The robot climbs small obstacles, overcomes curbs, turns in place and self-rights when flipped over. [...] Recon Robotics Recon Scout ThrowBot: Throwable micro-robot platform that enables operators to obtain instantaneous video and audio reconnaissance within indoor or outdoor environments. [...]

And there are very few, and very vague, restrictions on how they can use it. They can, in essence, use the gear anytime and anyway they want (for example, to "serve a warrant"), and if they use up all the shells and projectiles they can just go buy more.

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12 Responses:

  1. Eric says:

    Interesting how iRobot can make military grade robots, but they have yet to make a Roomba capable of cleaning rooms with black carpets.

    • CSL3 says:

      Hey, Dyson (with their over-priced vacuums, germ-spraying hand-"dryers", and prototype snot-cannon) is one of the most popular companies to offer military discounts. Corporations know their bread 'n butter is to bilk the public whilst glad-handing armed military and cops.

    • tfb says:

      You assume the military stuff they make doesn't have equivalent problems?  'Military grade' means 'like commercial grade, but since we only ever make 100 it will not have the bugs worked out.  But it will be rated to -30C.'

      • Eric says:

        Oh I'm sure it's terrible. But try to imagine how some militia came to the decision to buy this thing:

        "Hey Bob, you know that floor cleaning robot you have?"
        "The one that gets trapped under your office chair every time you try to use it?"
        "Mmm hmm."
        "Why don't we buy a rugged, throwable exploration robot from them?"
        "Sounds good to me."

      • Zygo says:

        chuckles in Canadian

      • Zygo says:

        chuckles in Canadian

        -30C is like a random Tuesday in January.

        (also the "Post Comment" button is hungry this morning...)

  2. CSL3 says:

    When people wonder why we say "Defund the Police", this is one reason why.
    (Both SF and Oakland have vastly INCREASED their budgets since George Floyd's death.)

  3. 1

    Since SFPD obviously isn't busy actually clearing crimes, I'm gonna guess they playing video games on their cell phones in the back of this thing, where us civilians can't see what they're up to.

    • CSL3 says:

      You joke, but when I took this photo of them this past December in Union Square, that's pretty much what they were doing (this photo doesn't do it justice). Since the vans are still there, I'm gonna go ahead and say nothing's changed.

      But at least the Apple Watches and Louis V bags are safe.👍🏿

  4. Doctor Memory says:

    Good to know that when police ans sheriff departments across the country finally get the green light to absolutely fuck up the long, long list of people they've been desperately wanting to fuck up for decades, they're gonna have top-notch equipment to do it with.

  5. Not Frank says:

    On a very special episode of Hoarders, we look at the equipment the SFPD has accumulated without any sensible use for it...

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