Cordova Police Department receives tactical robot

CORDOVA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Cordova Police Department now has a robot, which Chief Nick Smith hopes will protect his officers during dangerous tactical situations.

The robot is manufactured by iRobot, a company known for its Roomba vacuum cleaners.

It can go inside a building during a standoff, bomb threat or active shooter situation, and act as an officer’s eyes and ears while keeping them out of harm’s way.

“It gives us an advantage,” Smith said. “If we know what we’re walking into or we know what to look for ahead of time, it makes it a lot safer for our officers.”

The robot is operated by a long-range remote control, which looks like it belongs to a video game.

Cameras mounted on an extendable arm offer 360-degree views, which can be seen on a small monitor mounted to a pair of goggles. Microphones can pick up sounds as well.

Smith said the robot can climb stairs, navigate rough terrain and operate in up to two feet of water.

According to Smith, the robot cost $270,000 when it was built for the military in 2007, but he acquired it for free as part of a military surplus program for law enforcement.

“It’s one of those items we may never use, but when that day comes that we need it, we’re going to be thankful that we have it,” Smith said. “My police officers are very valuable, and a life can’t be replaced. Anything we can do to provide safety for those guys, so they can make it home to their families at the end of the day is our number-one priority.”

Smith said his department would not hesitate to use the robot to help law enforcement in nearby jurisdictions should they need it.

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