Tools

UPD's Armadillo comes out of its shell

By By CAROLINE GABLE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Police Department unveiled its crime fighter on wheels Thursday night, the Armadillo.

The old brinks armored van now is painted to look like an armadillo, but according Utica Police Chief Mark Williams, the gadgets on the inside are even more unusual than the paint job.

"It's going to be outfitted with ten different cameras, giving complete 360 degree coverage around the vehicle," Williams said. "Two different focal lenses, one is short and one is long. The great thing about it is there is a DVD recorder on board to capture the footage. It can be parked for up to seven days in front of a location without having to be recharged because of the advanced battery system we have in place."

The vehicle will be parked in neighborhoods to discourage illegal activity.

Officers say the vehicle will aid the narcotics investigators in identifying who enters and exits houses where drug trafficking is suspected. The Armadillo's first stop Thursday night was 631 Plant Street in Utica.

The idea for the Armadillo came from John Catera, the chairman of the Utica Landlord Association. He adapted the idea from a similar program in Peoria, Illinois.

Community involvement helped keep the project under the $15,000.00 budget. Many different individuals and organizations donated their time and labor, bringing the costs of the project to $11,000.00.

The plate number on the Armadillo is Officer Thomas Lindsey's badge number, a tribute to the Utica Police Officer killed in the line of duty in 2007.

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