TV Show: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Episode Title: Cop Con
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy television series that revolves
around the fictional 99th precinct in New York City. Its
protagonists are a team of detectives and their captain who work to solve cases
and the humorous ways they overcome conflict in every episode. The series is
centered around the life of one detective, Jake Peralta, and his misadventures
on the job with his colleagues. Jake’s approach to work is a laid back one,
while his boss, Captain Raymond Holt, is a by-the-book officer that follows
rules and has a rigid attitude to his work.
In this episode, the precinct travels upstate to Rochester, NY
to attend a police conference. The conference spans two days and involves panel
discussions, talks on crime and public policy. The highlight of the conference
is an exposition on new police technology that can be used in the field. Technology
has advanced, and the team is excited about surveying these gadgets, hoping to
use them on the field one day.
Come night, they plan to hold a party in their hotel without
their captain knowing. Events take an amusing turn when they creatively employ
technology from the expo to prevent the party from getting busted. Jakes uses
the robot cop to monitor Holt’s room that gives him real time updates on Holt’s
whereabouts. Using this, they’re able to throw their party without getting
The technology I’m looking closer at in this paper is the robot
cop. I chose this piece of technology over others because I feel this holds a
personal connection with me. I was born and brought up in the city of Dubai,
one of the first cities to implement this technology. The idea of a robot
patrolling the streets is a fascinating one, but not new to me.
Robot police officers are a new trend, being developed around
the world, but slowly implemented. The technology is expensive to develop and
maintain, which is why only a handful of countries have successfully
implemented it. Many countries have already introduced robots in their bomb
defusal teams but making a robot civilian-friendly and pushing it onto the
streets is a difficult task. One police officer in Los Angeles says a fully
functioning robot cop can cost up to $250,000 (Browne, 2018).
But many argue that the cost is justified. Cost justification
for a robot is based on annual patrol hours multiplied by the cost of a guard
per hour (Pellerin, 1993). To yield a return on your investment, the benefit
derived from having a robot must exceed that derived from a human officer. The
cost of operating a robot must be less than unit payroll of an officer.
In the show, the robot cop does an excellent job of patrolling
the hallways and alerting Jake when Captain Holt is on the rounds. But in the
real world, robot cops work around the clock. Unlike human police officers, the
robot cop in Dubai works 24/7. This avoids the issue of understaffing at night.
A member of the Dubai Police also says that robot cops are better in that “they
won’t ask you for leave, sick leave or maternity leave” (Breslin, 2018). I also
believe robots are great at solving problems because of the previous success
rates with bomb disposal.
the show, it plays a positive impact in the lives of the officers by giving
them real-time updates on their boss’s whereabouts. In the real world, robot
cops can be used for a variety of reasons. Robot cops patrol the streets of
China, and they can identify suspects/perpetrators listed in the police
database. Once identified, they will follow the suspect until backup arrives.
While robot cops are not equipped to take action into their own hands as of
yet, they can play the crucial role of a partner on the field, assisting human
police officers, just like in the episode.
that brings up a very good question. Should these robots be allowed autonomy in
the first place? A very Black
Mirror-esque question, this technology can be considered unethical because
it will eventually lay off human police officers. These officers with families
to feed and livelihoods to support may be financially hurt. On the other hand,
one can also argue that robot cops will, at one point, be more efficient than
human police officers, leading to safer streets and lesser crime. For the
the same time, since robot cops are still a new technology, many ethical
questions must be raised and debated. Like what action to be taken when a robot
cop is involved in the injury of a human being? Can a robot cop be given the
authority and autonomy to kill a human being, even if it’s for the greater
good? Such questions must be debated, and verdicts passed in the legal system.
Apart from these starting
troubles and minor hiccups, I only see this technology as evolving. Soon, robot
cops will be an asset to police forces around the world, assisting human police
officers in keeping crime rates low and people safe. Dubai plans to automate
25% of its police force by 2030 (Breslin,
2018), which means they ought to prepare themselves for this transformation
by building better supporting infrastructure and revising police guidelines and
policies. Robot cops are here to stay.