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Doug Potts, chairman of the Friends of the Sioux City Police Department, stands next to sergeants Steve Ten Napel and Ryan Bertrand as they demo the department's new SWAT robot at Monday's MRHD meeting. Potts' organization received a $15,000 grant from MRHD to help pay for the $25,000 robot. 

SIOUX CITY — The Sioux City Police Department demonstrated its new SWAT robot to members of the Missouri River Historical Development board and local media Monday.

Acquiring the $25,000 device was feasible thanks to a $15,000 grant MRHD provided the Friends of the Sioux City Police Department, a community nonprofit dedicated to supporting the metro's men and women in blue.

SCPD covered the remaining $10,000 cost out of its budget.

According to Sgt. Ryan Bertrand, the new SWAT robot will help the department prevent officers from being placed in harm’s way during tense situations such as a standoff or active shooter scenario.

“Visibility is going to the main (capability) as far as giving us eyes into a facility and it also gives us the capability where we can to deliver a phone,” Bertrand said. “We can attach a phone to it and we can drive into maybe a hostage (situation) and we can negotiate with them via there.”

The all-black robot resembles a giant remote control car with a camera at its center and moves via a continuous track system that can go up and down stairs. The robot's operator controls it from a distance and uses a remote with a screen that showcases views from the device.

Between 20 and 30 officers from the department are expected to be trained in the use of the device.

Bertrand pointed out the use of robots is growing in the law enforcement community. He noted a recent incident in which Dallas police officers used a robot to eliminate a man strongly suspected of killing five police officers in a situation that took place in the north Texas city earlier this year.

MRHD holds the state gaming license for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and collects 4.25 percent of the casino's adjusted gross gaming revenues for distribution to charities, civic groups and local governmental bodies.

Mark Monson, president of MRHD, said the organization was pleased to be able to provide funding.

“We love those kinds of projects because they are community-minded,” he said. “They serve many, many people in all walks of life.”


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