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FORT SMITH -- Police have a new tool to help take the risk out of gathering information in hazardous situations.

The Fort Smith Police Department showed off its new Throwbot 2 reconnaissance robot base kit last month at a gathering of police, city and Firehouse Subs officials at the company's restaurant at 7805 C Rogers Ave.

The robot base kit was acquired through a Firehouse Subs public safety grant program. Area representative Jim Maxwell said the $15,645 Throwbot was among grants the company has made in Arkansas totaling more than $500,000.

Police Chief Nathaniel Clark said the robot has been named Firehouse 1 as a show of gratitude for the grant.

Capt. Daniel Grubbs, special weapons and tactics commander, said the department has had the robot for about three months. Grubbs said officers like the operational ability of the robot, which is small -- about 10 inches across -- and lightweight, sturdy and easy to maneuver.

Mayor Sandy Sanders took the control unit and moved the robot up and down the floor in the restaurant.

"Thank you, Firehouse, for doing things like this, things cities would like to be able to do," Sanders said of the grant. "The wish list is long."

The robot proved its worth last month when police received a call about a drunken man who had fired shots and barricaded himself in his house. The SWAT team was called in to assist.

Grubbs said the man's wife told officers the man was in a bedroom. The robot was tossed in an open window. A controller, monitoring the robot's video camera on a screen on the remote, maneuvered it around the house and discovered the man was in a different part of the house.

The man spotted the robot and kicked it but couldn't damage it, Grubbs said. Officers eventually used tear gas, and the man surrendered.

"It takes the human element out of gaining further intelligence of what we need to do to be a lifesaving unit," Grubbs said.

Firehouse Subs founders established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in 2005 to provide funding, lifesaving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations, Maxwell said.

Through raising funds by various means, the foundation has granted more than $37.7 million to organizations in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

State Desk on 01/01/2019

Print Headline: Fort Smith police give city a first look at Throwbot 2

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