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Santa Maria, Grover Beach police departments receive new crime fighting robots

police robot
A new life-saving ground reconnaissance robot debuts at the Santa Maria Police Department Wednesday morning. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria and Grover Beach police departments are now equipped with new tactical crime fighting robots.

On Wednesday, the police departments each officially received the robots during a media presentation at the Santa Maria Police Department.

The state-of-the-art robots include a number of features that provide a new security measure for the police and public.

"We want to make sure the robot is able to get eyes in on a situation before putting an officer in harm's way and to do it with truly burdenless technology," said Eric Habeeb, Transcend Robotics Director of Sales and Success.

For the police departments, the robots are another added piece of equipment they can add to their crime fighting arsenal.

"It's another great tool," said Santa Maria Police Chief Marc Schneider. "It's just an opportunity for us to create time and distance between the problem and the police, so the more time and distance we have, the more options we have to resolve something peacefully and gain compliance. It keeps the officers safer, the community and the person involved, the suspect, in this case, would be safer, as we can communicate with them and direct them what we need them to do."

Designed by Transcend Robotics of San Diego, the robots have a number of features, including rotating camera, two-way microphone, ability to maneuver up stairs and deploy gas canisters, infrared and thermal detection, and hold a 400 pound payload capacity.

"Our budget is limited, so anytime we can receive a tool that is an officer safety tool and at a donation cost is always a good thing for us," said Grover Beach Police Commander Jim Munro. "We're really excited about it. Our SWAT team is excited about it and this is something we can use not in tactical situations, but also on everydays calls in the City of Grover Beach, so definitely a win for our officers and the safety of the community."

The robots will be utilized by the police department's drone operations team, which will use the equipment during crisis situations.

"I can see it being used in conjunction with our drones on tactical situations," said Schneider. "I see the robot being used before sending an officer, or even a dog into a building when you're pretty certain there's somebody in there. This can get in there, give you a good visual inspection. It has the ability to maneuver upstairs and even push open doors and that's just a great asset."

Central Coast businessman Hieu Doan donated the money to purchase the robots, which cost just under $30,000 apiece.

After Doan spoke at the presentation, Schneider decided the department will instead use in-house funds provided by the Santa Maria Police Council to purchase the robots.

Schneider said he decided it was in the best interest of the department to purchase the robot itself rather than accept the financial donation.

Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts
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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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