KENNEWICK, WA. -- Two dangerous standoffs earlier this month have kept the Tri-City area SWAT team and their top of the line equipment very active.
On Tuesday, we got a behind the scenes look at the technology they use and how recent upgrades are helping to save lives.
If you happen to run into this SWAT robot sometime in your life, you're most likely in a very dangerous situation. But even though it doesn't look like much more than a remote controlled car, don't take it likely.
This thing has the ability to see and hear you and even interact with you using a remote operated claw.
You're looking at one of the most advanced pieces of equipment at our law enforcement's disposal.
"A robot gives us the ability to have eyes and ears inside of a structure so we can make good decisions," Commander John Law of the Tri-Cities SWAT Team said.
Tuesday we saw the SWAT robot, or Avitar, in action. With some careful movements and time, it can open doors. But it can also do much more than that.
"We can go up and down stairs," Commander Law said. "It can look in confined spaces, it can see in the dark, it's really an incredible tool."
Windermere and HAPO Credit Union donated the $65,000 it took to buy the robot just 2 years ago.
"It's incredible right?" Law said. "Because there's no way we could have been able to do it without those contributions."
Another aspect of SWAT operations is getting an upgrade. The team just installed these new TVs inside the Mobile Command Unit. All paid for with $10,000 in state and federal grants approved in the last two months.
This small back room is specifically used for the crisis negotiating team, who works to end every situation in the most peaceful way possible. But the tricked out RV isn't just for hostile standoffs.
"Floods, fires, law enforcement events, natural disasters, absolutely," Commander Law said.
Overall, Commander John Law says this state of the art equipment puts them in the best position to save the lives of police officers and suspects alike.
"We've been blessed in this area with contributions from local businesses and grants from the federal government to have robots that keeps officers and citizens and suspects out of harms way. We also have a Mobile Command Unit to make wise decisions and keeping in kind public safety."
No matter what the scenario, the SWAT team believes they have the manpower and the equipment to handle whatever is thrown their way.