WHITE CITY, Ore. – Last week, we told you about a robot that police used to find accused attempted murderer, Benjamin Foster under a house.
Jackson County Sheriffs Office said they use the robot when a suspect may be armed, or is in a tight space.
Without it, getting to Foster last Tuesday would have been extremely difficult.
“The robot for our team has been pivotal,” JCSO SWAT team assistant leader John Richmond said.
He said their robot has helped them in many situations.
JCSO bought the roughly $25,000 robot three years ago, after seeing the Medford SWAT team’s bot in action.
It can get into small spaces, giving them a pair of eyes, when confronting a suspect.
“It operates much like a mini tank,” Richmond said. “So it can go up stairs, over obstacles. It has several different types of cameras to include infrared.”
There’s also two-way communication available, so crisis negotiators can talk to the suspect.
Something that was used to find Foster, who police say was connect to two homicides and an attempted murder, in Grants Pass.
During a multiple hour police standoff with him last week, they sent the robot into a crawl space under the house, getting within several feet from him.
“When we sent the robot under there at first, he was kind of avoiding it by crawling by crawling around it,” Richmond said. “And eventually went to the furthest corner of the crawl space to where we ran the robot right to him where we were able to try and communicate with him the whole time via our robot.”
JCSO said they tried communicating with him for almost two hours with no response.
Hours later he took his own life.
But the robot allowed them to see he was armed.
Without it, the standoff may have gone very differently.
“We would have to send people under there to search for him and obviously that very much increases the risk for all the people on our swat team,” Richmond said.
As of right now, the robot does not have a name.
JCSO is looking at possibly replacing or upgrading it in the near future.
It, Oregon State Police and Medford Police are the only ones locally with this technology.
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