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New Mexico police embrace mobile surveillance tools

Published time: July 17, 2012 15:45
Edited time: July 17, 2012 19:45
AFP Photo/Valery Hache

AFP Photo/Valery Hache

If you’re on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico sometime soon, don’t be surprised to see one very peculiar vehicle driving through town. And no, it’s not the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Law enforcement agencies in Albuquerque have announced that they’ve procured a mobile surveillance trailer — a $68,000 piece of machinery that is equipped with four remote-controlled cameras attached to an extendable 30-foot boom. The entire surveillance hub run on its own generator, is self-contained and can operate for up to 30 days at a time from a single spot without requiring maitenance.

The latest addition to the Albuquerque Police Department’s arsenal can transmit live videos to the smart phones and laptops of cops across the city and is described by the force’s chief as a necessarily implement to aid in SWAT team operations. That’s not all, though.

"It will assist the team leaders and negotiators so they'll be able to get a birds eye view of what's going on," Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz tells reporters this week upon unveiling the trailer on Monday.

The vehicle is being touted as an imperative addition to the force because the department’s current cameras are limited in how long they can run and who they can see. That, as you might imagine, is exactly where the mobile surveillance trailer starts to raise questions, though.

In an official statement out of APD headquarters, the department says that the procurement of the trailer comes as a response to June 20 incident in which a 15-hour standoff between SWAT officers and an armed suspect could not be collected on video because the department lacked sufficient equipment. But this latest addition won’t be dispatched to only assist with the tactical team.

Albuquerque’s KRQW News 13 reports that the vehicle will also be sent to deal with unruly crowds on city streets and to deter thieves and other criminals from committing crimes. Chief Schultz adds to the Albuquerque Journal that they already plan on putting the vehicle on downtown streets after hours to watch people interacting while leaving bars. And, when detectives and private business owners can come to agreement, the van will be positioned right outside of storefronts to monitor every move within the area.

Authorities have yet to confirm when exactly they will deploy the surveillance trailers onto the streets of Albuquerque.

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