Mobile surveillance units add extra security to downtown hot spots

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind-  Police in Indianapolis are working to keep the busy downtown areas safer by using special tools to patrol, even when they aren’t there.

If you ran along the canal alone this week, you might not have been as alone as you thought.

"No, I had never noticed it before,” said Joshua Stafford as he ran by the mobile surveillance tower set up near the Colts playground. "Overall, I think the tower is a good thing.”

The camera has been set up in this spot for a few weeks, but IMPD has used it for a few years--mainly for special events but also in downtown areas that need attention.

"It’s been very helpful in our fight against crime in the downtown district,” said IMPD Downtown District Commander Phil Burton.

The mobile surveillance unit moves every few weeks. Police take a look at areas where there have been a lot of calls and move it where needed. The camera almost never takes a break unless it needs routine maintenance.

"We have it at the canal, we've had it at apartment complexes, we had it around the City-County Building," Burton said.

The camera also uses solar power to operate. It's out in the open with "mobile surveillance" written on the side in large lettering.

“We want people to see it," Burton said. "We want residents to see it, and just to know that we’re trying to attack crime one, before it happens. But two, if in fact we should see something we try to respond to it as quickly as possible.”

The video can be rewound, but is also visible in real time.

"The cameras are actually manned and looked at by an individual sitting in our camera room and downtown district roll call,” Burton added.

That person can also move the camera and zoom into objects. If that person sees something suspicious, they can radio information along to officers.

"We’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure everyone remains safe, and that’s what we hope that they see when they see this camera,” said Burton.

The cameras are borrowed from Homeland Security.

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