I recall a story which I believe appeared in Analog back in the 60s, but which I can't find. A police department takes delivery of a new "law wagon", which assists the police by keeping complete files on wanted criminals, etc. It's equipped with face recognition, which together with the files enables it to recognize suspects. It also knows the law, so it acts as judge, jury and executioner. The story follows one of the cops who's using this new technology, and early in the shift it captures, tries and executes a particularly nasty criminal. But then it captures, tries and executes someone else as that same criminal again. When the cop realizes something is wrong, it turns on him and accuses him of being that same criminal.

I haven't been able to find it anywhere. I wrote a comment on it on slashdot (https://slashdot.org/?issue=20170720&view=searchandxy), but never got a response there. I'm hoping for better luck here...


This is Into the Shop by Ron Goulart.

Robotic police car is partnered with police officer. Car can work autonomously to detain criminals, hold remote trials, perform executions, cremate victims and place remains in the glove box. One day, the car seems to have executed a strikingly high number of criminals and all the remains are labelled with the same name and case number. The closing scene has the car arresting its policeman partner using the same name as appears on all the cremated remains in the glove box.

Abebooks: Booksleuth

It might interest you to learn that they also made it into an episode of the Scifi Anthology TV Show "Welcome to Paradox"

The future of law enforcement has arrived in Betaville. Called "Lawagons" the black artificially intelligent vehicles patrol the streets with their human partners dispensing justice throughout the city. Federal Police Marshal Stu Clemens' Lawagon however has developed a glitch in its systems and now at the behest of his human partner has become judge, jury and executioner.

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    Thank you! That's it. Unfortunately, it's not among the freesfonline stories (freesfonline.de/authors/Ron_Goulart.html), but at least I know what it was called. (And I was wrong about it being in Analog.) It was also the story used for the cover picture, pinterest.com/pin/169448004711366834. Plus a comic book version at diversionsofthegroovykind dot blogspot dot com (I'd give the full URL, but I don't have the "reputation"). And finally, it was re-published in "What's Become of Screwloose? and Other Inquiries," by Ron Goulart, Daw Books, 1971 (which I just ordered for < – mcswell Sep 4 '17 at 21:16
  • @mcswell - Glad to hear it. Don't forget to upvote and mark this answer as "accepted" by clicking the tick on the left hand side. – Valorum Sep 4 '17 at 22:05
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    @mcswell The magazine issue containing that story is available for free at the Internet Archive archive.org/details/Fantasy_Science_Fiction_v026n04_1964-04_PDF – user14111 Sep 4 '17 at 22:32

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