Westshore police departments have a new life saver.
A $110,000 bomb disposal robot has been added to the Westshore Enforcement Bureau’s toolbox.
“The main purpose of the robot is to save lives,” said Rocky River Sgt. Ken Thompson, commander of the WEB bomb and hazardous devices disposal team “It is the eyes, ears and hands of the bomb technicians.”
The new robot replaces a Vanguard robot the unit got in 2006.
“It did its job while we had it, but it’s become outdated and doesn’t have a lot of the modern technology which assists us in dealing with potential explosive devices,” said Thompson, a 25-year veteran of the disposal unit.
The Vanguard was used many times, primarily for smaller explosive devices like pipe bombs, Thompson said.
The 3½-foot-tall ICOR5 robot was paid for with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant from Cuyahoga County. The WEB unit encompasses officers from Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Rocky River and Westlake who work together on criminal and hazardous situations that may affect those cities.
The new robot has a turreted claw/disrupter arm that integrates the remote handling of a robotic claw with a bomb disrupter, Thompson said. It also has sensors that can detect radiation and other potentially hazardous materials, he said.
“It will be able to go in and grab a potentially explosive device and hopefully help us dispose of it safely,” Thompson said.
The new robot is versatile and can go in many different places, said Westlake officer Jason Carman. The robot controls have more modern technology and help the unit react to situations quickly, Carman said.
“It can see better in the dark and help us assess many different situations,” Carman said.
Having that type of equipment helps keep police officers and other people safe, said Fairview Park Police Chief Erich Upperman.
“If the device is a bomb and it goes off, then we lose the robot as opposed to losing a person,” Upperman said. “The robots have become more versatile and can do more, which gives us better capabilities for dealing with hazardous situations.”
The five certified bomb technicians of the WEB Hazardous Devices Unit will continually train to operate the robot.
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