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Jonathan Miano, Times file photo

MICHIGAN CITY — A robot capable of speaking and capturing live video could be added to the police force.

The purpose would be to resolve a dangerous situation before having to send in officers or a dog.

The Police Department is asking the City Council for $26,000 to purchase an Avatar brand robot about the size of a remote control car.

No decision was made Tuesday night, but council President Don Przybylinski expressed support.

"This is will well worth the safety provided to our police officers," he said.

Assistant Police Chief Royce Williams said the robot would be able to transmit live images from a built-in video camera to help develop strategies for capturing, as an example, an active shooter inside a structure.

Officers would also be able to speak through the robot to whoever is targeted.

Williams said the request is in response to a wanted individual hiding inside an attic during a major warrants sweep last year.

A robot belonging to the U.S Marshals Service was placed above the ceiling and helped locate and arrest the person.

"So we have had some experience with this robot," Williams said.

The same robot was not readily available, though, in October when police went inside the basement of a home to search for an individual armed with several guns.

"It’s a very valuable tool to have in our assortment of things we use in the law enforcement profession," Police Chief Mark Swistek said.

He said the robot on wheels can travel up to 75 to 100 yards from the remote control.

"It’s very rugged. Very heavy," he said.

Unlike other models, Swistek said the robot would not have the capability of carrying weapons or explosives for use in the most extreme cases.

The acquisition from riverboat dollars is scheduled to come up for discussion at the Feb. 20 meeting of the City Council before a vote expected March 6.

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