Early in what would become a 19-hour standoff in June, Jefferson Parish, La., sheriff’s deputies outside a home were unsure how many weapons were inside or even whether the occupant had hostages, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Two-year Sheriff’s Office veteran Mac knocked the front door off its hinges and proceeded inside to appraise the scene. Mac is a robot, one of many models available to local law enforcement agencies. Robocops have been must-have pieces of equipment in bomb squads, but their roles have expanded to other crime-fighting situations such as SWAT team standoffs.
Later in the standoff, Sheriff’s deputies knew it was safe to enter the house only because of the cameras inside a New Orleans Police Department robot that also was on the scene and stepped in when Mac was damaged. The Sheriff’s Office bought Mac about two years ago for $150,000. Although the robot has gone out on a dozen bomb scares, the June standoff was its first SWAT roll. Robots are equipped with cameras and can be controlled remotely. Their wheels can climb stairs, and they sport arm that can open doors and windows.