PHOENIX (Reuters) - Send in the SWAT monkey.
It's not an order police commanders are accustomed to giving, but that could change if an Arizona police department follows through on a proposal to train a capuchin monkey for high-risk police operations.
A Special Weapons and Tactics veteran from Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, has researched the possibility of landing a $100,000 federal grant to fund a pilot program to train one monkey.
"Everybody laughs about it until they really start thinking about it," Sean Truelove told the East Valley Tribune, a local newspaper. "It could change the way we do business."
Major city police departments in the United States use paramilitary SWAT teams for hostage situations and in situations involving heavily armed criminals.
Truelove, who declined an interview request from Reuters, told the newspaper that the idea came to him in a dream about 18 months ago.
The test monkey could be trained to unlock doors and search buildings for police on command, Truelove was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The capuchin monkey is considered one of the smartest primates, known by many for its decades-long association with organ grinders. The monkeys weigh three to eight pounds (1.3 kg to 3.5 kg) and live for 15 to 20 years.
Capuchin monkeys, native to southern central America, have been used to help disabled people, and are able to perform such tasks as retrieving items, serving food and opening and closing doors.
The Mesa, Arizona police department issued a statement saying: "We have always encouraged our department members to seek creative and innovative ways to improve public safety in our community."
But the department also said the idea of training a capuchin SWAT monkey had not been cleared by the department's executive ranks.
A representative from the nation's largest association of SWAT officers also could not resist poking a little fun at the proposal.
"I've always heard you can train a monkey to do anything," said Steve Smith, a board member of the National Tactical Officers Association when reached at a convention in Nashville. "Does this mean he's going to have on little black fatigues?"
With thanks to Brian.
Think of the possibilities here -- we could get a Workshop Monkey -- deliver stories, make coffee, bar tend, buy cigarettes, hold our hands when we've had a bad workshop, drive us home from The Foxhead, listen to our rambling psychological problems, etc. He could wear a little ascot and pince-nez.
If I ever have any money, I pledge to make the Workshop Monkey a reality.