Monday, May 09, 2005

Armed "Negotiator" Deployed in Maine

Another Andros Joins Police Force

Persuasion goes high tech
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- In the dead of night a week ago, during a standoff with a Waterville gunman, state police negotiators rolled out a little assistant.

Its eight wheels are designed to travel in rough terrain and even climb stairs. It's got three cameras and side mounts that can hold -- and fire -- guns.

"We use it in some situations where it's too dangerous to send a human being," said Detective Adam Kelley, who heads the state police's crisis negotiation team. "We use it in facilitating communications."

That's one way of putting it.

In a sticky situation, this little guy -- its technical name is Remotec Andros F6A -- drives a hard bargain.

It needs to: The Andros is used by the state police's 15-member crisis negotiation team.

Negotiators are a relatively rare breed, trained at defusing situations where emotional levels are extremely high, and weapons are usually involved. Negotiators go for 40-hour FBI courses, and their training emphasizes listening and communications skills. Only a trooper with at least three years experience is eligible for training as a negotiator.

"Usually it's situations where shots have been fired, or someone is pointing a weapon," Kelley said. These include suicidal people and hostage situations.

The robot accompanies state police negotiators on every call, but it isn't always deployed.

Shortly after state police bought the $150,000 robot in May 2003, they were called into a dangerous domestic situation in the greater Bangor area.

"It involved two deaf people in the residence, and their (text-based) phone was off the hook," Kelley said. "One had a weapon."

In the wide-open space around the residence, troopers would have been vulnerable to an armed and unstable attacker.

In went the Andros, with a sign that asked the armed person to come out and surrender. It worked.

Persuasion goes high tech


Blogger Jossarian said...

"We use it in facilitating communications."

An armed, eight-wheeled robot can "facilitate communications"? They must be using some definition of "communication" that I'm not aware of.

8:35 AM, May 11, 2005  

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