By Dixon Hayes
ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) - It looks and operates like a toy, but it has a very serious job.
It's called the Recon Scout. It's a remote-controlled robot that looks like a small radio-controlled cannon. But it's also a camera, and helps gather reconnaissance for police officers before they enter a house.
The Anniston Police Department recently obtained one of these devices and demonstrated it for Fox6 News.
Senior Patrolman Steve Thomas says it can go anywhere, and see anything. It even has night vision. He showed us how it could go into another room and operate through walls.
"It's in a different room now, and I can send it all the way to the front of the police station, in this brick building with all the wires and metal in it, and it still picks up," he says.
Anniston Police say it's no exaggeration the device could save lives, that's why they bought it. Chief Layton McGrady recalls the summer 2001 incident on Elizabeth Street in Anniston. Three officers were shot and wounded in a standoff that ended when the shooter died in a house fire.
"If we'd had it at Elizabeth Street," McGrady recalls, "we probably wouldn't have gotten the three guys shot. We'd been able to throw it in, and it would've been able to clear the building for us and we would at least know what we were up against."
The little device is surprisingly expensive--$13,000--but the department paid for it through a federal grant. It will assist the department's Special Response Team.