Police K-9 robots are here

Published 12:01 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Safe to say, you’ve never heard of a dog like Roscoe. Neither had I until I read that he had been shot and killed while working in the line of police duty.

Actually, killed isn’t quite accurate. He was put out of operation when a barricaded gunman opened fire. The man first shot at police officers, then turned on Roscoe when he was sent into the house to locate the gunman.

Roscoe, you see, is a K-9 robot, and he was sent into a home on Cape Cod earlier this month. He was assigned to the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad and deployed in order to avoid putting humans at risk. Roscoe, with troopers at his controls, first entered the house. He then checked the two main floors of the house and cleared them.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

But when Roscoe went into the basement, the gunman knocked him down the stairs. Roscoe did what any good police officer would do. He got back up and began going up the stairs toward the gunman who kicked him down the stairs a second time. Not a quitter, Roscoe went up the stairs again toward the man who then shot him three times with a rifle.

He was struck in the “neck” and “leg” and stopped operating, but he isn’t dead. In fact, he was sent back to Boston Dynamics, the company that made him. They removed the bullets, made some repairs and put him to work at the company’s headquarters.

Two other robot police dogs were sent into the Cape Cod home, and the gunman shot at them. Police resorted to tear gas, and the man gave up.

I’m not about to suggest that Polk County Sheriff Tim Wright needs a robot K-9. They are expensive. If you get all the bells and whistles (not including weaponry), the price tag is about $115,000 compared with a living, breathing German Shepherd or Malinois, which can cost as much as $40,000.

Pricey, yes, but who among us thought we would ever see the day when BMWs and Mercedes would become as ubiquitous as Fords and Chevys. Now Bmers are a dime a dozen and lots of everyday folks drive a Mercedes.

So it’s entirely possible down the road that robot police dogs will become commonplace. They are already capable of sniffing out fentanyl and methamphetamine as well as other drugs.

And I’m sure Sheriff Wright has some highly capable computer geeks in uniform who could program their very own “Roscoe” to write those danged reports, take mugshots and fingerprint folks.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com