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Police roll out video surveillance truck called The Peacemaker

January 30, 2012 | Hogan Keyser


January 27, 2012 by Ihosvani Rodriguez via Sun Sentinel Fort Lauderdale, FL -- Tania Ouaknine is convinced the police are watching her.

She's not paranoid -- it says as much on the red sign painted along the side on the hulking armored truck that's been parked in front of her eight-room Parisian Motel for several days.

"Warning: You are under video surveillance," reads the bold message on the side of the truck.

From the front bumper of the menacing vehicle, another sign taunts: "Whatcha gonna do when we come for you?"

The truck is a new weapon for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in the fight against drugs and neighborhood nuisances, and it looks like a Winnebago on steroids. They call it "The Peacemaker," and it may be a first in South Florida.

Mixing high tech with simplicity, the in-your-face strategy is straightforward: load an out-of-service armored truck with some of the latest surveillance equipment available and decorate it with police emblems. Then, simply leave it parked in front of trouble spots.

"Make no mistakes about it," said Detective Travis Mandell. "We want people to know that we are watching the bad guys."

In August, police got the first of their two Peacemakers after paying the Brinks company $10 for a discontinued armored bank truck. They retrofitted the vehicle with cameras that can stream live video back to headquarters. With its cameras hoisted on each bullet-proof window, the truck can gather panoramic footage for up to 700 hours.

Last month the department added a second truck to its arsenal, converting a former SWAT vehicle into the second Peacemaker. Police park the unmanned trucks in front of the homes of suspected drug dealers and at crime-plagued street corners.

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