Washington County deputies share inside look at robot program - KPTV - FOX 12

Washington County deputies share inside look at robot program

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FOX 12 got an inside look Monday evening at the robots that have become a staple for law enforcement.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office gave a demonstration of one of two robots they keep with the patrol unit.

The robot is used remotely to give deputies a live look at potentially dangerous situations or even suspects.

It can climb stairs and is equipped with cameras that can zoom and tilt.

Deputies can also speak to a suspects without a face-to-face confrontation.

“We respond to all kinds of things 24 hours a day,” said Deputy Frank Ward. “We’ve responded to shots-fired calls, burglary in progress. We get as much information as we can because we can look through two cameras that we have. We can talk with people through a two-way radio.”

Ward said the sheriff’s office has utilized the robots for roughly the last eight years with its Remotely Operated Vehicle Team. He said the technology has become more popular as deputies get more comfortable using it.  

Ward joined the team about a year after its inception, and keeps a robot in his patrol car.

He often gets called to SWAT-type calls and provides intelligence to officers.

 “We can get eyes on from around the corner and I don’t have to expose myself or my fellow deputies to say someone who’s holed up in a building and wants to shoot at us,” Ward said.  “We’d rather have the robot shot than us, so we can send it around the corner. I can literally hide around the corner, look at the screen and tell the guys what’s going on.” 

Ward said the sheriff’s office has never had a suspect shoot or otherwise destroy one of the robots.

Last year, deputies used the robots 21 times. So far this year, they’ve been deployed seven times.

Currently, the sheriff’s office is limited because the robots can’t open doors. Ward said they are planning to add that technology –possibly through equipping the existing robots with new parts or getting a new robot.

The department is also exploring the idea of purchasing a drone for investigations.

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