Robot to assist Reno-area police

RENO -- When the going gets real tough, Reno-area law enforcement officers will have a new high-tech buddy on their side.

The Andros F6A Robot can diffuse suspicious packages with a water canon and allow an officer to remotely negotiate with a suspect through a microphone and video cameras, officials said.

It can also deliver chemical irritants to subdue a suspect and collect samples from biologically contaminated areas -- all by remote control.

The Reno City Council this week approved sharing the cost of the $232,000 device with Sparks and the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.

The robot will be part of Washoe County's Consolidated Bomb Squad, which responds to about 200 calls a year.

Reno Police Chief Jerry Hoover said the robot will increase officer safety.

In the past seven months, the department has responded to at least nine critical incidents involving an armed, barricaded suspect, the chief said.

"All of these incidents incorporated the use of negotiators and SWAT personnel," Hoover said.

"In most cases, it was not known whether the subject was laying in wait for the officers or critically injured and in need of medical care, or had just merely escaped prior to police arrival."

In such instances, the robot can be used to scope out the situation, giving officers a better idea of what they're dealing with, he said.


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