Honolulu’s police department first drew national media attention when Civil Beat reported it had spent $150,045 in federal funds earmarked for pandemic relief on Spot. At a presentation to city council last year, Honolulu PD explained that Spot would be used to patrol the Keehi Lagoon Beach Park homeless encampment in the city and, more specifically, would be used to take the temperatures of unhoused people living in encampments as an initial COVID-19 screening.This means that people living in the encampment would have regular initial screenings not with a human but with a dog-shaped robot under the guise of keeping cops safe from homeless people who potentially had COVID-19.
“As far as law enforcement goes, I would be so bold to say it’s the most innovative program in the nation,” officer Mike Lambert of the Honolulu PD said during the city council meeting. “And during the pandemic, no one has ever heard of another law enforcement agency trying to provide shelter and overnight services for the unsheltered.”
According to Lambert’s presentation, the $150,000 robot could potentially save the police department thousands of dollars a day. His 90-day estimate of cost savings put the number somewhere between $117,000 and $242,760. He based this number, seemingly, on what he would have to pay an officer to take the temperatures and also built in an estimate of what he’d have to pay an officer to quarantine for 14 days should they be exposed to COVID while taking temperatures.
The article is detailed and crap writing obviously upset (1) at a robot getting the gig and (2) doing exactly what the coppers said they were going to do with it.
I didn’t realize there was snob appeal in looking down at both coppers and robots.