Hialeah police will acquire high-tech robots used in the military to reinforce their SWAT team in risky situations, authorities said.
The purchase includes an Avatar II tactical robot that moves by remote control and performs audio and video surveillance functions, very similar to the automatic mini-tank that Miami-Dade County police used in July to obtain intelligence information during the Hialeah shooting in which a gunman killed six of his neighbors.
“This type of purchase will make it possible for our department to give a more efficient service to our community,” said Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez. “What we want is to be prepared for high-risk situations with the latest technology.”
The Hialeah City Council on Tuesday approved a total of $34,500 for the purchase of the robots .
The Avatar II, used by several SWAT teams in the country, will be bought for nearly $20,500 from Robotex Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Another robot the police are planning to buy for a little more than $14,000 is Throwbot XT, manufactured by Recon Robotics, a company based in Minnesota.
The Throwbot XT, which resembles a small dumbbell and weighs little more than one pound, can be hurled like a hand grenade. When it lands, it can move by remote control and transmit audio and video by infrared cameras.
Velázquez said that the Hialeah SWAT team had already tested the Avatar II when an armed elderly man entrenched himself in his apartment in an eight-hour showdown with the police that led to a shooting. The man, who in recent years had been involved in several incidents, committed suicide, according to official records.
Everardo Buznego, 81, had taken shelter in his apartment at 698 W. 32nd St. after shooting an agent that helped children cross the street with a pellet shotgun.
“On that occasion we tested one of the robots to gather intelligence while the man was armed in his apartment,” Velázquez said.
The Hialeah police began considering the purchase of tactical robots in July after Miami-Dade police used one of their robots to enter the apartment where gunman Pedro Vargas was holding two hostages after killing six neighbors.
The robot gave police Vargas’s exact location, which led to a successful and safe rescue of both hostages.