San Diego Police Department

New Robot Could Help SDPD SWAT Unit

SWAT hopes to acquire state-of-the art robot with money raised from Citizens For SWAT golf fundraiser

Robots are now used nearly every time the SWAT team is called out to a scene, San Diego Police Department officials say. 

Now, the unit hopes to acquire a $45,000 robot with money raised at Thursday's Citizens For SWAT Charity Golf Tournament at Maderas Golf course in Poway.

Police robots are used as surveillance to gather intel on what could be waiting for officers inside an unknown building before they have to force their way in.

"So instead of deploying an officer inside of the structure, we can deploy a robot and it gives us a lot of intelligence," said Officer Dave Speck, with SDPD's SWAT Special Response Team (SRT).

The unit is currently testing out a new robot equipped with several cameras and used to search rooms, hallways, and stairways.

"It has an articulating arm on it, so it has the ability to open doors and move objects, which is huge for us," said Speck.

The specific model the SWAT unit is looking to purchase can also go up and down stairs.

SDPD officers currently use two smaller robots to clear rooms. 

"Typically how we're going to deploy it is through an open window, broken window or an open door," explained Speck.

Because in real life, it's only when hours of negotiations and other tactical means fail that SWAT officers conduct a raid. 

Over the last 12 years, Citizens For SWAT has raised $1.2 million to buy equipment for SDPD.

"Some of the SWAT equipment is very expensive, so we have a large gap, especially when we talk about the special equipment and the robots," said SWAT SRT Sergeant Mike Ramsay.

The organization has helped by purchasing two robots, ballistic protection, helmets, and lumber used to build a SWAT training house.

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