BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The country is reeling from the second time in two weeks that officers have been killed in the line of duty. The shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge left multiple officers dead. At the same time, each case showed the high-tech power of police forces.
In both cases, a police robot was used to help prevent further death. That same technology is used by the Biloxi Police Department to crack cases.
Police officers face the potential for danger every day on the job. But technology can be used to help reduce that danger. In some cases, a robot is simply used to search for explosives, but in others, it can be used to carry out an operation.
"It's always a better situation to put a piece of equipment in harm's way than it is a human being," explained Lieutenant Milton Houseman with the Biloxi Bomb Squad.
According to Houseman, the police department uses the robot on around 30 calls a year. Most of the time, the robot is used to look at a possible explosive without endangering human life. Houseman said the machine can also handle items remotely.
"It has a shoulder, an elbow, and a wrist, so it's able to move and articulate not unlike your arm," said Houseman.
The machine also has a camera and a two way communication system.
"Whatever the video feed from the robot sees comes back to the truck and we can analyze whatever the item is and determine if it's safe to take an officer downrange or not," said Houseman.
If the case is deemed too dangerous for an officer, that's when the dexterity of the robot goes into play. The movable grips have a wide-range of mobility and can be fitted with different attachments depending on the circumstances.
Lieutenant Houseman said the bomb squad trains constantly to stay on top of the new technology. He said the recent shootings made him think about what he and his team would do in a similar situation.
"Anytime you see a situation like that, you apply your personal training and you run the scenario in your head," said Houseman.
He hopes it's a scenario that he never has to face. "Dallas was terrible, too, but Baton Rouge is getting closer to home and each time it gets a little closer and it's always personal," said Houseman.
And he wants to be ready if tragedy were to strike and call on his team for help. Biloxi's bomb squad program is a collaborative effort between the FBI and the Biloxi Police Department.