October 12, 2009
Police to use armored car to monitor nuisance properties
Racine police have something fun planned for nuisance properties in the city.
The police department has a MacGyver-esque plan to convert an armored vehicle into a mobile, indestructible video camera.
Known in some communities as the "armadillo," the armored vehicle will be parked outside of troublesome properties and record activity for three to five days, according to Police Chief Kurt Wahlen.
Wahlen got the idea from a similar program in Peoria, Ill. Police there first tried to videotape nuisance properties using a parked squad car, but neighborhood residents smashed out headlights and further damaged the vehicle, Wahlen said.
Peoria police switched to an armored car, which couldn't be damaged. The vehicle proved so successful at monitoring problem properties that Peoria now has a second one, Wahlen said.
An added bonus with Racine's armored car is it's basically free. A 1999 armored car was donated to the police department and the city needs to spend a few thousand dollars tuning up the engine, mounting the camera and painting the vehicle.
Wahlen appeared before the city's Public Safety and Licensing and Finance and Personnel committees Monday night to get approval to accept the donated car. The City Council will consider the donation next Tuesday.
"This is a great tool in our arsenal," he said.
Wahlen said policies are being drawn up on how to use the vehicle. He did say neighbors would be notified when the armored vehicle is parked in front of a nearby house.
The donation easily passed the committees Monday.
"It's a great idea that costs almost nothing," said Alderman Aron Wisneski, chairman of the Public Safety and Licensing Committee.