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Aurora Police Department's new tactical robot could save lives in active shooter events

Alarm Detection Systems makes donation following February's deadly workplace shooting

AURORA – Following the Feb. 15 shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora that left five workers dead and several Aurora police officers wounded, employees at Aurora-based Alarm Detection Systems wanted to make sure the officers would have the tools they need if they ever faced a similar situation.

On July 10, the company donated a tactical robot as well 24 tactical jackets to the department's Special Response Team.

"We got together and kind of talked about what we could do that might help next time, so the next people that are at risk maybe have a different outcome," said Ed Bonifas, executive vice-president of Alarm Detection Systems, in making the presentation to the department.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said the donation of the robot will allow the department's SRT team to deploy technology to assess a situation before "putting our team members in harm’s way."

The facility where the shooting occurred is a 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse. It took police 90 minutes to search the warehouse before they located and became engaged in a gun battle with the shooter. The gunman was killed in a shootout with police.

"These guys are my pride and joy," Ziman said, in talking about the members of the SRT team. "These guys are the guys that ran in that day. These guys and the rest of the police department, they're truly guardians and warriors. Whatever they can get to make their jobs easier and to keep [the public] safer are literally my two number one priorities."

ADS executive John Spooner has a brother on the Aurora Police Department.

“Having a brother on the Aurora Police Department makes the ongoing issue of safer response particularly close to home," he said. "We are proud to be part of a solution."

Aurora Police Lt. Rick Robertson, co-commander of the SRT team, noted the new robot is much smaller than the department's current robot.

"This you could put in someone's backpack and it's with the team," Robertson said. "For that reason, it's much more versatile than what we are currently working with. It had been on our want list for a long time and so now we have it."

Another need of the department has been cold weather gear, which Alarm Detection Systems also donated. The temperature was 17 degrees at the time of the Pratt shooting.

"We'll be able to wear these anytime we're stuck out in the cold," Robertson said.

Depending on the situation, Ziman said police officers could have to stand outside for hours on end.

"These guys are the ones that sit on the perimeter in the frigid temperatures," he said.

Bonifas said he hopes his company's donation will help the department in its future efforts. He noted that following the shooting, "everybody was focusing their attention on the victims and on the company."

"Which is all good, but we wanted to try to make the kind of contribution that made a difference next time something like this were to happen," he said. "We wanted to focus on maybe victims that don't exist yet that maybe don't have to be victims because these guys have the tools that they need. We talked to them about what they needed, what tools do they not have that would really be useful to them that we could contribute."

As a company that sells security systems, Bonifas noted Alarm Detection Systems deals with the Aurora Police Department on a daily basis.

"These guys are important to us in what we do, responding to the alarm systems that we put in and catching bad guys and helping protect our customers," he said. "The [shooting] was an event that we all know can happen, but we all think it's going to happen somewhere else. And happening here in Aurora was a wake-up call, maybe, that if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere."

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