Huntington Park's new “RoboCop” stores pedestrians' faces, scans license plates, and costs $8,000 a month to run

Huntington Park’s new “RoboCop” stores pedestrians’ faces, scans license plates, and costs $8,000 a month to run

California police department highlights ability of the “automated” cop to blacklist flagged individuals

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

Back in June, the Huntington Park Police Department in California announced the newest addition to the force: A 400 pound security robot dubbed “HP RoboCop.”

Described by the HPPD as resembling “something from outer-space or a science-fiction movie,” HP RoboCop was reportedly intended to serve as both a visual deterrent to would-be criminals and provide 24/7 surveillance. I filed a records request for contracts, promotional materials, and any associated policies having to do with HP RoboCop. Just last week, HPPD released a cache of records in response.

According to released marketing materials, HP RoboCop is a K5 model security robot produced by the Silicon Valley-based manufacturer Knightscope, Inc.

In a staff report by the HPPD asking for the mayor and city council’s approval of the robot’s purchase, the HPPD specifically highlighted the K5 as an improvement to the city’s fixed surveillance system.

Interestingly enough, the HPPD goes further, and makes the claim that the K5 is a “fully autonomous security data machine” that can actually “differentiate between a harmless passer-by and potential criminal.”

As for how the K5 does that, the HPPD points to the robot’s many, many sensors, which are apparently capable of detecting faces, license plates, and even smartphones. Said faces, license plates, and smartphones can then be run against a “blacklist,” which would send an alert to the HPPD.

There’s nothing in the documentation to indicate what criteria the the HPPD would use, or is currently using, to add a face, license plate, or smartphones to a “blacklist,” though a copy of the HPPD’s policies regarding the “Public Safety Video Surveillance System” was provided

The HPPD budgeted the operating costs for the K5 at $240,000 for the first three years, payable in $6,000 monthly installments (also noting that the cost could be deferred through grants and/or asset forfeiture funds).

However, according to invoices provided by HPPD, the agency is currently paying $8,000 a month …

(minus a $1,066 credit for a four day downtime in June.)

According to meeting minutes regarding the approval of the K5, the program is up for review after one year.

Read the full report embedded below, and the rest of the material on the request page.

Image via HPRoboCop Twitter