APD prepared to disarm bombs
Hours before Thursday’s bomb threat drama unfolded, the Andalusia Police Department demonstrated its newest gadget – two Remotec ANDROS units designed to defuse bombs.
Sgt. Jason Curry said the devices, which are valued at $160,000 each, were obtained free through the U.S. military’s Defense Logistic’s Agency disposition services.
“These robots are designed to respond in situations that would put human life in danger – like a bomb or a standoff with a barricaded subject,” Curry said.
Made by the Northrop Grumman Corp., the website states “military, EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), HazMat (Hazardous Materials), SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), law enforcement agencies and other first responders worldwide rely on Remotec ANDROS robots to help assure a safe, successful outcome for their most challenging missions.”
The devices are equipped with video and audio, and have the capability to be fitted with other wares such as power tools or even a weapon.
Curry said the devices work three ways – manually, wirelessly or via hardwire. Each is operated through a mobile command center, either on site or in a departmental vehicle.
“We can use this device wirelessly up to a mile away from the incident or it can be used hardwired with a fiber-optic cable up to 300 feet away,” he said.
Curry said use of the devices is not law enforcement specific.
“It’s great in a haz mat situation, too,” he said. “We could also use it search and rescue where there are spaces that it’s not feasible to send someone or if we need to get food or water in to them.”
The devices were not needed during Thursday’s events; however, training is ongoing for when they are needed.
Curry said this summer, officers will hold a training exercise to familiarize themselves with the local schools.
“We want to get a feel of how these buildings are laid out, how we need to enter doorways, and that sort of thing,” he said. “And the best time to do that is when school is not in session.”
Curry and Officer Mike Abraham, are part of the department’s Advanced Tactical Robotic Operations Unit – or ATRO – and there are plans to integrate the device with the Covington County Incident Response Team.
On Thursday morning, the two demonstrated how the devices worked by extracting a “suspicious item” from the back of a military surplus truck and by defusing a “bomb” inside a backpack.
The ATRO Unit is now online and ready to respond to any situation or incident. Agencies wanting information on the unit or needing to request assistance from the unit should contact Curry at the APD.