HOUSTON—In an effort to enhance the agency’s capabilities while reducing the burden on its existing force, sources confirmed Friday that the Houston Police Department has developed a new line of law enforcement robots capable of wielding the excessive force of five human officers.
First dispatched by the HPD earlier this month, the tactical robotic units, known as the AP-12, are reportedly equipped with on-board mechanisms to target both criminals and innocent bystanders, and possess a variety of retractable instruments that allow them to effortlessly subdue and restrain up to four individuals at once. According to sources, just a dozen of the new robots will be able to collectively carry out the physical and psychological abuse typically spread out amongst the officers of an entire precinct.
“We have done extensive testing with the AP-12 and we can say that these units are capable of carrying out everyday police work just as proficiently as any member of our force,” said police spokesman Gerald McClintock, who explained that the machine can be deployed to nearly any scene to which law enforcement officials typically respond, be it dispersing peaceful protesters by blasting a 14-nozzle pepper spray cannon or reacting to reports of suspicious behavior by immediately striking the knees, face, and throat of a potential suspect up to 10 times harder than its human counterpart. “Thanks to these robotic units, our deputies can rest assured their work will be performed to the same standards we have always expected of our patrolmen.”
“In many ways, these robots’ actions are indistinguishable from those of our brave men and women in uniform,” McClintock added.
According to its designers, the AP-12 is outfitted with numerous features that make it ideal for abruptly resorting to extreme measures, including a highly sensitive motion detector that perceives most gestures as an act of resistance necessitating physical force. Additionally, the robots possess a powerful hydraulic grasping system, enabling them to repeatedly slam subjects of any size and weight against fences, dumpsters, and car hoods with previously unattainable levels of aggression.
Engineers say the robot is also equipped with a sophisticated audio command program that recognizes and subsequently ignores such phrases as “Stop” and “I give up” and is programmed to apply pressure to a prostrate suspect’s neck with a force of up to 500 PSI both before and after he’s stopped moving. Its operating system is also reportedly loaded with advanced visual recognition software that allows the robot to identify nearly any object in the subject’s hand as a weapon, prompting it to rapidly empty the clip on its extendable .40-caliber firearm.
After doing so, the machine is configured to automatically place a pistol on or near the disabled suspect while wirelessly corroborating fabricated details of the confrontation with any other on-scene units well ahead of a potential internal affairs investigation.
“When designing the AP-12, we felt it was important to seek input from numerous veteran officers to ensure that the unit would respond to an emergency call or routine traffic stop just as its human counterparts would,” said McClintock, pointing to such key features as the machine’s default setting of leaving a suspect’s handcuffs clamped on for hours at a time as he sits unattended in a jail cell, as well as its on-board camera, which automatically turns off before the unit engages a suspect. “From what I’ve seen already, I’m thoroughly convinced that this robot is capable of doing everything our cops currently do and more.”
Sources say the AP-12 represents a vast improvement over previous incarnations of the law enforcement robot, pointing to the inherent deficiencies in such models as the AP-5, released in 1999, which was disastrously unable to distinguish between whites and non-whites. The current version reportedly improves on the functionality of the AP-11, which suffered from a software glitch that led the robot to read arrestees their Miranda rights and allowed them to contact an attorney before being interrogated.
“We’re confident that the AP-12 has what it takes to keep our streets safe,” McClintock said, noting that approximately 1,000 fully automated units will be deployed throughout Houston in the coming months, with the majority of them set to patrol the city’s poorest and most urban areas. “A secure, healthy community depends on a law enforcement body that is able to take whatever measures are necessary to maintain law and order. And these machines are fully equipped to do just that.”
“I’m confident that members of the community won’t notice any difference in police quality and performance as these new robotic units begin patrolling our streets,” he added.