SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s been just over two years when a new recruit joined the Sioux Falls Police Department’s bomb squad. This officer is unselfishly willing to place his life on the line, to save others, when it comes to diffusing a potentially explosive emergency. Agent 605 has nerves of steel.
It’s a robo-cop that seems almost human.
“He’s got a personality, because he’ll test your character a little bit when you’re trying to run him sometimes,” Sgt. Rob Forster of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
The Sioux Falls Police Department’s Agent 605 represents some of the latest advances in robotic technology. He comes equipped with five cameras, that allow him to see at night and even peer around corners.
“It has five different views for us, which gives us a front, a rear view, and then what we call a pan-and-tilt, where we can lift up on an arm and move it around and also where we can watch the arms and the different equipment working to make sure they’re operating correctly,” Forster said.
Agent 605 can nimbly handle any suspicious packages for police. And with its stainless steel, 550-pound frame, it can absorb a blast from up-close.
“Even if we have to deploy anything onto a package, if it does have any type of danger, we can use the robot to do that, rather than putting a human being in that spot,” Forster said.
Members of the Sioux Falls bomb squad remotely maneuver Agent 605 from a safe distance, as far as a half-mile away.
“It has a lot of pre-sets on it where the computer talks to the robot itself. It’s kind of almost like playing a video game with a joystick,” Forster said.
Agent 605 has developed a strong following among Sioux Falls school kids. A 5th grader from St. Mary school won a citywide contest by thinking up his name back in 2018. A robot, with its lifelike qualities and capabilities, can capture the imagination of any kid.
“That’s probably one of the reasons kids are drawn to it is because of the imagination. You start thinking about all of these different scenarios and the real-world application to that, it could be put in about any scenario people could dream up,” Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
Even though he’s been with the department for more than 2-years, Agent 605 still hasn’t been dispatched on an official call yet. But he provides bomb squad members with valuable training time when they put him through the paces. They have to be familiar with every moving part.
“Basically, we know how to tear it all the way down and put it all the way back together, screw by screw,” Forster said.
Agent 605 has a partner: meet “Boomer.” He’s been with the department for 20 years. He’s in semi-retirement right now, but serves as a backup for Agent 605. And he’s seen plenty of action.
“We had an incident years back before I was on the team, I remember, of a package that was successfully taken care of near 14th and Minnesota. We also had some things we were able to mitigate at some houses, there was some concern and he was used for that,” Forster said.
Boomer might not have the same high-tech hardware as his new-and-improved partner, but together, Boomer and Agent 605 have emergency calls well in hand.
Agent 605 was a frequent visitor to schools earlier in his career, demonstrating his skills to students.
But the pandemic has since limited his public appearances. Police hope Agent 605 will be able to get out more, this summer.