Southampton Town cops have plans to trade in R2-D2 for BB-8. Well, sort of.
The Southampton Town Board recently gave approval to the police department to upgrade its current reconnaissance robot with a new one, to go ahead of police officers and scope out dangerous situations.
Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said in a recent interview that since he took up his post, he has wanted to increase the department’s abilities to look into properties where there might be a barricaded person, hostage situation, or an active shooter before sending in officers from the Emergency Services Unit response team. The robot could also be used in situations where officers need to enact a search warrant in “an area that might pose a great danger to police officers,” he added.
The robot could be equipped with technology to transmit either video or audio, which would allow police to glean more information without placing officers directly in harm’s way, he said.
“So, if you put a robot in, you could have a conversation with somebody. You can also get a good idea of what the officer is faced with if they have to make an entry [into a building],” he said.
The robot would be more for communication and intelligence, not for manipulation, but it could be thrown through a window, or if a door is breached, it could be placed inside a building and would be able to move around.
Although Skrynecki declined to discuss the model of reconnaissance robot or the price, he did say the robot would be paid for entirely with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The same grant funding would be used to purchase body armor protection — vests and helmets — for officers. The vests, which will be placed in each radio car, are one-size-fits-all and can be worn over current ballistic equipment for added protection, Skrynecki said.