Shelby Police approved for new tasers, guns, and a robot

By JUSTIN COOPER

The Shelby Township Police Department is getting an updated toolkit following the approval of several purchases totaling over $133,000 by the township’s Board of Trustees June 18.

The police department is buying nine tasers, 80 9mm backup handguns, a Throwbot device, and a 911 recording system.

“It’s a busy night for our police department,” Supervisor Rick Stathakis said.

The Throwbot 2 is a 1.2-pound robot that can be dropped 30 feet or thrown 120 feet. It can be navigated into spaces officers can’t safely access, such as barricaded homes, and send back audio and video.

According to Chief Robert Shelide, there have been at least two difficult situations in the past six months in which a Throwbot could have made a difference. In both situations, a suspect had barricaded themselves in their home for over 15 hours, demanding the presence at least as many officers, and when officers eventually entered the home, the suspect was found dead.

“It’s not a weapon,” Shelide said. “It will never be weaponized under any circumstances. All it is is eyes and ears in a device for us in a small little package.”

The trustees were delighted by the Throbot, with Treasurer Michael Flynn comparing it to “Runaway,” a 1984 science fiction film about servile robots being reprogrammed to kill.

The police department is selling 80 of its .40-caliber pistols to raise $22,400 toward their 9mm replacements. Last year, a firearms evaluation committee organized by the department recommended Shelby Police switch to the smaller caliber, following what Shelide said was a national trend in law enforcement.

The hiring of additional officers ran the department’s supply of extra tasers dry, and the nine additional tasers will ensure each officer continues to have their own.

The 911 recording system will be installed in the department’s backup call center. The backup center has never had a recording system, but an expected increase in the volume of calls received necessitated the upgrade.

The motion passed unanimously.