Our paper recently featured an article about nifty cop toys. It was of special interest to me because the books I'm writing feature a team of covert ops specialists, and the technology is something I'm always trying to keep up with. Of course, in my current WIP, I've created the requisite conflict for my techno-hero by denying him access to any of his toys. But below are some of the things I'm sure he's wishing for.
Note: The complete article is from The Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 6, 2009, written by Bianca Prieto. An abridged version below.
Gone are the days when cops storm barricaded homes without knowing what's inside.
Orlando's SWAT unit, like many other tactical teams across the nation, is now using cutting-edge gadgets, including camera balls, remote-control robots and extendable-pole cameras to peek inside buildings and protect officers from dangerous situations.
Vision Stick System: Includes a pole camera, an under-the-door camera and remote-monitor system. An infrared camera sits atop a 12-foot extendable pole. This tool is often used to help SWAT-team members look around corners and under doors. Cost: $15,000.
Orlando officers recently used a remote-control robot equipped with cameras to pinpoint an armed and bleeding suicidal woman inside her house, allowing officers to know exactly where she was when they rushed in to help her.
The EyeBall R1, a 1.4-pound rubber ball with a built-in infrared camera. It can automatically adjust itself to an upright position after being thrown into a room. If it gets wedged and cannot right itself, the camera can flip the image upside down to correctly broadcast a video. The remote control has a full-color screen and can rotate the ball 360 degrees. SWAT members use this tool the most, OPD Sgt. Mark Canty said. Cost: $5,300.
This robotic camera is the size, shape and weight of a 1-pound dumbbell. The "dumbbell" is the most portable of OPD's robotic cameras. Its titanium shell and urethane wheels make the tiny camera easy to toss and highly maneuverable. Controlled by a hand-held remote with a screen, this robot once helped SWAT officers find an armed man hiding behind a bed. Cost: $4,200.
iRobot Negotiator: "It's like a remote-control tank," OPD Sgt. Mark Canty said of the 34-pound, two-camera machine. The robot can climb stairs but only goes 3.mph. It is controlled by a remote with a joystick and color screen. This is the device used to find the suicidal woman. Cost: $30,000.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when my guest, J L Wilson, will talk about some surprises she's encountered, including Roman legionnaires in Chicago.