MPD Chief Eugene Ellis_zp.jpg

Photo by Zach Parker

The Monroe City Council agreed to seek bids on tactical equipment, including a robot to assist SWAT teams, for some $105,000.

The City Council reviewed the police department’s requests during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Monroe Police Chief Eugene Ellis says a fire destroyed most of the department’s tactical equipment and deployable electronic equipment.

“We lost our equipment in the fire about two years ago, and this stuff is strictly to replace what we lost,” said Ellis. “It’s nothing new.”

Ellis explained the equipment would enhance SWAT operations.

“All the equipment is for replacement used by our SWAT team and it’ll only be used by our SWAT team in in SWAT type situations,” said Ellis.

When asked about whether the tactical robot was needed to combat a certain crime, Ellis said the equipment requested was simply a replacement.

The tactical robot could cost $49,000.

According to city documents, the tactical robot’s abilities include all-terrain navigation with the ability to climb stairs. The robot also must display live video and audio recording and other technologies used during tactical situations.

The other deployable electronic equipment could cost some $56,000.

In other news, the City Council adopted a resolution to seek bids — a second time — for an airfield drainage improvement project at Monroe Regional Airport. The initial bids on the project exceeded the project’s budget.

“The project came in way over budget,” said Public Works Director Tom Janway.

“We only had one bidder that bid on the job.”

According to Janway, the lowest bid on the project was $3.2 million. The project budget was $1.8 million.

The city also split the project into phases to prevent the budget from exceeding its $1.8-million budget.

“We’re hoping that when it readvertises, we get more contractors to bid on it and a better price on it,” said Janway.

The city is increasing the drainage structures in the airfield between the airport’s two runways.

Janway estimates the project could start in the spring of 2020, depending on the weather.

“I would think what we would do is advertise it and issue a start date whenever the weather became dry enough in the spring,” Janway said. “We would have it complete within the August, September timeframe.”

The city’s $1.8-million budget for the airfield drainage project is funded by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a 10-percent match from the state, according to Janway.

“That was the combination of funding from the FAA and the state,” said Janway.

Janway explained that the FAA asked the city to focus on drainage improvements before the city begins the extending the airport’s secondary runway.

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