Canine, robot soon to help Oregon police fight crime

10/30/2012
BLADE STAFF
A common situation for the Avatar II robot, which has treads and a
360-degree camera, would involve a person with a weapon.
A common situation for the Avatar II robot, which has treads and a 360-degree camera, would involve a person with a weapon.

The Oregon Police Division will be getting some significant upgrades thanks to a corporate donation and money from a federal grant.

A $15,000 donation from Toledo Refining LLC will be used for the purchase and training of a police dog and to train its handler. The canine unit dog will be dual purpose, able to find people and drugs, police Chief Mike Navarre said.

City Council accepted the donation at its regular meeting last week. The money goes into the city's Law Enforcement Trust Fund and will cover the cost of forming the police canine unit.

Council also approved using $66,450 from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant to buy a tactical robot and night vision equipment for police.

At the meeting, Chief Navarre and council members expressed their appreciation to representatives of Toledo Refining. Councilman Jim Seaman described the city's relationship with the company as "one of the better public/private partnerships developed in Oregon." 

Company spokesman Olivia Summons in turn said Toledo Refining "was proud to partner with you and be of help."

Chief Navarre said the police dog will be trained to detect human scents and drugs, but would not be "a cadaver or bomb dog."

But given the proper command, the dog would be able to bring down a fleeing suspect, find someone in a building, or lead the way to a cache of narcotics, the chief said.

He said the dog probably would come from a foreign supplier, as most police dogs are, and live with its officer-handler, who has not been selected. German shepherd  breeders in Europe are more tightly regulated than in North America.

Funds for the robot and night vision equipment comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by way of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

Chief Navarre said the most common situation for deploying the Avatar II robot would involve a person with a weapon. The robot, which looks like a toy, is equipped with treads and a 360 degree camera.

"It safely allows an officer to enter a hostile situation to see what is going on," the chief said. "It provides real, live intelligence to an entry team. It makes their job a lot safer."

He noted that Oregon's special response team trains with Sylvania, Sylvania Township, and Maumee, communities that also would enjoy the services of the robot.

In other action, council council approved paying Poggemeyer Design Group $12,000 for administrating the city's community development block grant program and $15,000 to Donald J. Schonhardt and Associates for assistance in preparing its annual Generally Accepted Accounting Principles financial report.