HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The continuing investigation that began after multiple explosions struck New York and New Jersey over the weekend have shed light on how law enforcement agencies use robots.
Both Horry County police and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division have robots. There are a variety of situations where they are used, whether at a mall or in a local neighborhood.
Robots are primarily called upon when there is a situation that is more dangerous for an officer or an agent.
"It's a 10-year-old tool," said Lt. Raul Denis with the Horry County Police Department. "It has basic functions. It'll open a door. It'll go through a door. It'll go up and down the stairs. It'll give you access without actually having to expose an employee who might get hurt."
When a suspicious package is reported in Myrtle Beach for instance, Horry County police will send the bomb squad.
SLED officials explain that the robots can be handy in getting close to a package and take pictures or video so a human does not have to.
The robot can even be used to deactivate a bomb or set off a controlled explosion, just as was done in New Jersey.
On Monday, a robot was trying to cut a cord on an explosive device but it caused a bomb to detonate instead.
While the equipment is expensive, law enforcement officials said there is no price greater than the life of an officer who could have been injured or killed doing the same thing.
"All over the state, and even out of state sometimes, our task force unit that runs these operations they're on call to federal agencies and state agencies," Denis said. "They're part of a much bigger network to counter terrorism."
For safety reasons, both SLED and Horry County officials could not go into many specifics on the robots.
But in situations they might come in handy - whether a suspicious package on a road or a hostage situation down the street - they can save lives.