City Council Meeting - FINAL

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Meeting Date: 07/06/2021  
Co-Submitter: Stacey Brechler-Knaggs

Consideration and Approval of Contract: Purchase of an Aardvark Tactical small chassis robot in the amount of $63,855, with 100% funding from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through AZ Department of Homeland Security and the Northern Arizona Metro Board.
  1. Approve the Contract with Aardvark Tactical in the amount of $63,855. Where $20,000 was awarded by the AZ Department of Homeland Security and the remaining $43,855 was awarded and approved by the local Metro Board toward the purchase of this robot; and
  2. Direct the City Manager to complete the necessary documents.
Executive Summary:

The Flagstaff Police Department SWAT Team is a Tier 2, multi-agency, regional response team. It consists of 20 members; 14 officers from the police department and 6 deputies from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. The SWAT Team responds to approximately 15 calls a year throughout the Northern Arizona Region. They are the primary regional response team for all critical infrastructures in Northern Arizona.

The Flagstaff Police Department Bomb Squad is a Tier 1 regional response team. It consists of 4 Bomb Technicians and averages about 20 calls a year throughout the Northern Arizona region. The FPD Bomb Squad is the primary regional response team for all critical infrastructures located in Northern Arizona.

The Flagstaff Police Department’s Hostage Negotiations Team consists of 5 certified negotiators. They respond to 6 – 10 calls per year, and typically respond in tandem with the SWAT Team to assist in barricaded subjects or hostage rescue calls.

This grant was awarded to purchase a small chassis tactical robot for use with the Flagstaff Police Department’s regional Emergency Service Response Teams (ESRT). The ESRT respond to calls throughout the North Regional Advisory Council (RAC). The tactical robot will be used primarily by members of the SWAT Team when dealing with active shooter, barricaded suspects, or hostage rescue type call outs. The tactical robot’s secondary uses will be to aid the Hostage Negotiations Team with communications and delivery of equipment/supplies, as well as assisting the Bomb Squad with response to suspected chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosives (CBRNE) events/devices. The small chassis tactical robot will be utilized when a large chassis robot is not feasible due to location or size constraints, or when a second angle of view is needed to address depth of field issues with 2D imagery during render safe procedures of suspect CBRNE devices. 

This tactical robot is small and maneuverable and has the ability to enter structures to gain intelligence and communicate with dangerous suspects without having to send armed police officers into the structures first.  The intent would be to communicate with suspects in order to peacefully resolve dangerous situations using this as a life-saving piece of equipment for both the officers on the call and the suspects that are barricaded. 

When this tactical robot is being used by the SWAT Team, it will only be used for video surveillance, searching, and communication with dangerous barricaded suspects.  When the Bomb Squad uses the tactical robot, the video camera would be taken off of the articulating arm.  The Bomb Squad would attach a "Carbon-fire" pan to the arm which is used to render safe explosive ordinances.

Financial Impact:
There is no cost to the city as the tactical robot is fully paid for by an AZ Department of Homeland Security grant and the Metro Board.  This grant and purchase is budgeted in FY2021-22 budget in the Police Department in account 001-04-062-6304-2-4405.
Policy Impact:
This Contract does not impact FPD departmental or city handbook policy.
Connection to PBB Key Community Priorities/Objectives & Regional Plan:
Connection to Council Goal, Regional Plan, CAAP, and/or Strategic Plan: Effective Governance - Regional Plan (2030) - Planning, Public Safety, Goal PF.3 Provide high-quality emergency response and public safety services.
Has There Been Previous Council Decision on This:
In 2006, the City Council approved the purchase of a large chassis explosive ordinance device removal robot with funding from the AZ Department of Homeland Security.  This 2006 robot is becoming obsolete with its age and is unable to be maintained by the manufacturer due to age.

The new tactical robot will be able to be used by the Bomb Squad to disable and disarm explosive devices, and it will help our Bomb Squad keep its Tier 1 certification status by having a functional tactical robot in inventory to serve Flagstaff and surrounding areas.
Options and Alternatives:
  1. Approve the Contract to purchase an Aardvark Tactical small chassis robot in the amount of $63,855, with 100% funding from U.S. Department of Homeland Security through AZ Department of Homeland Security and the Northern Arizona Metro Board; or
  2. Reject the Contract and allow FPD to continue to use the aging equipment.
Police departments around the state and country have been equipping themselves with tactical robots to enter structures to gain intelligence and speak with suspects prior to officers entering a structure where an armed encounter could occur. The Flagstaff Police Department ESRT teams have used the large chassis robot assigned to the bomb team with some success in the past, but this robot is too large and cumbersome to enter structures.  A majority of the time, the large and heavy robot gets stuck in the house and puts more people in danger during operations than it does provide intelligence. 

The small chassis tactical robot requested is designed to enter buildings, climb stairs, look over and into hiding spaces, provide intelligence to commanders on the scene, and allow trained officers to negotiate with suspects before introducing police officers into a building. This has applications during active shooter events, barricaded suspect incidents, and hostage rescue type events.

The Bomb Squad will also be able to use this equipment to disarm explosive ordinances in confined spaces and open areas when the large robot is not practicable. 

The mission and goal of our specialty teams is "Saving Lives" which corresponds directly to the mission and values of the department.  This piece of equipment will allow our officers to better navigate and handle dangerous incidents and hopefully resolve these situations peacefully.
Key Considerations:
This is a new piece of equipment that is not in our current inventory which allows us to serve our citizens of Flagstaff in a safer way than before. 

Purchasing staff published an Invitation for Bids (IFB) solicitation for Small Platform Tactical Robot in the Arizona Daily Sun on February 21 and February 28, 2021, and posted the solicitation to the City of Flagstaff’s PlanetBids Website on February 10, 2021. On March 5, 2021, the City received four (4) Bids from tactical robot contractors.  A four-member Selection Committee consisting of City staff, reviewed and evaluated the bids.  Based upon the cost proposals, the Selection Committee identified the lowest responsive responsible bidder for Small Platform Tactical Robot to be recommended for the Bid. The committee choose Aardvark as the supplier of one Small Platform Tactical Robot. The results of all firms are as followed:
Aardvark - $63,855.00
ICOR Technology Inc. - $68,520.20
Mercaterra Atlantic, LLC - $77,990.00
SupplyCore Inc. - $184,453.71
Community Benefits and Considerations:
The tactical robot will serve the Flagstaff community by utilizing the latest technology in surveillance and intelligence with the intent to end dangerous and deadly conflicts with peaceful results by reducing danger to the public and our officers. FPD seeks to help citizens without having to use force by using trained negotiators to achieve peaceful resolutions via the tactical robot.
Community Involvement:
Our community will be able to view this equipment at community policing events such as the Citizen's Police Academy and National Night Out. The Bomb Squad displays their equipment off to children and adults at these events, and it is always well received to see the latest technology that our City gives its police department.
Expanded Options and Alternatives:
This tactical robot is going to keep the public and our officers safer by reducing the likelihood of an explosive device detonating in our city or an armed encounter inside a structure with one of our police officers present.
COF Contract 2021-78
Aardvark Quote
Grant Provisions
Avatar III Brochure


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