Smaller bomb detection robot easy find for Bristol PD

Becky Campbell • Aug 13, 2019 at 6:32 PM

When Bristol, Tennessee, police started looking to add a smaller explosives detection robot, they didn’t have to go any further than a nearby city to find one thanks to a program designed for law enforcement agencies to trade equipment. 

Johnson City Police Department Lt. Keith Sexton, who heads up the explosive ordnance unit and training division, said he and the Bristol police bomb ordnance team leader were talking recently about Bristol needing a smaller robot for different types of crime scenes.

“I was talking to Lt. Brian Hess (Bristol, Tennessee, police)  and he said they were researching to find a new bomb robot,” Sexton said. It just so happened that JCPD had two smaller bomb robots and they weren’t using both.

“There are very few bomb techs, and we back each other up,” Sexton said. “Anything to do with explosive ordnance equipment is expensive so we try to help each other out.”

The JCPD had obtained the smaller robot to supplement the larger one the department uses, and that’s what Bristol was looking to do. The piece of equipment was free to Johnson City police through a program called the Defense Logistics Agency 1033 program. All that was required was some paperwork through Nashville to transfer ownership, Sexton said.

Johnson said the deal saved Bristol close to $100,000.

“This spirit of collaboration defines our two agencies and we are thankful for the assistance of the Johnson City Police Department with this matter,” Johnson said in a press release. “This transfer was done at no cost to either agency and has provided the Bristol, Tennessee, Police Department with a reconnaissance robot that would have cost approximately $100,000 to acquire otherwise and will also ensure greater longevity for our larger, primary bomb disposal robot.

The 1033 Program is designed to repurpose certain items disposed of by the military to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. In effect, providing the law enforcement agencies with equipment they would have to purchase with local money for a minimal or no cost.