ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - For most of us – it's not the first time we've seen him... Or... It. As seen in Sunday night's Super Bowl commercial break, the St. Petersburg Police Department just added some of it's latest robotic technology to their SWAT team and his name is SPOT.
"In 36 years, I never thought I would ever see a day like this," said St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway. Spot is a remote-controlled robotic dog that climbs stairs, opens doors, and treks rough terrain. The robot dog will be deployed under the supervision of the SWAT Commander or Assistant Commander during authorized SWAT operations. Chief Anthony Holloway told reporters Monday the robot will be used in extraordinary situations such as active shooter response, hostage situations, search and rescue, mass casualty incidents, and more.
"We've had some robotic capability with our SWAT team historically, but nothing like this," said Major David Gerardo, St. Petersburg Police Department.
It will also play a part in de-escalating intense situations or stand-offs to avoid use of force.
"Not for crowd control, not for surveillance or gathering any type of information," said Chief Holloway. "This piece of equipment is not weaponized. It does not bite. We are the third law enforcement agency in the United States to have a piece of equipment like this."
"There's cameras on all sides of it. There's cameras' all on the bottom of it," explained Detectives Chea Lance and Joshua Adams who operate SPOT. The robot comes equipped with multiple cameras along with an intercom, allowing the operator to speak with and hear a person involved in a high-risk situation. Officers say this would be especially useful in situations where a suspect is barricaded in a building or is holding hostages.
"If there's a suspect, an individual on the other side of that door – if I take the human out of that interaction, then that need for deadly force if something happens is greatly mitigated," said Major Gerardo. "So that's the true value that we see in SPOT." And the robotic tactical gear won't be limited to St. Petersburg.
"This tool will be available to any law enforcement agency in the Tampa Bay area," said Chief Holloway. "This is a tool that can and will save officers' lives and also possibly save the life of a person that's in the home that's going through a medical crisis."
No public funds were used to purchase SPOT. The Speer Foundation, created by the Speer family, including Brett and Lisa Speer Vickers who are also residents of St. Petersburg provided the funds to purchase SPOT.
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