ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -
Coming soon to a St. Petersburg neighborhood near you: an armored truck that you cannot miss and that cannot miss you, at least not with the four cameras mounted behind bullet-resistant glass, pointed in all four directions.
The exterior is wrapped in an industrial design featuring very large eyeballs and the words "St. Petersburg Police," all in the department's green and gold colors.
"This is exactly what I wanted," city council member Karl Nurse declared, after watching Major Jorges Sotolongo pull up the cameras images on an iPad, "It's high profile enough you put it in a drug location or a prostitution location and it will discourage the customers from coming, they'll just keep moving."
"That is what the police department has in mind," Chief Chuck Harmon told a city council committee Thursday, assuring council members the privacy of law-abiding citizens has been considered.
"The real positive for me is the visibility of the thing...This is meant to be a broad, right in your face: Don't do what you're doing," Harmon said. "We didn't want this thing parked in somebody's front yard thinking that we're shooting into someone's bedroom window...It's really meant look to the exterior activity going on around buildings, not into buildings."
Deployment is another unresolved detail. After Thursday's display at city hall, it was to be parked at the intersection of 34th Street and 1st Avenue South. The chief told council members to email him with any ideas, with the goal of using the truck throughout the city.
Council members think the overt presence will be appreciated by most residents.
"I would expect that more than 90 percent of them will say, ‘well, when can you bring it into my neighborhood?' " Nurse predicted.
The retired armored truck was donated to the city in January, after which about $30,000 was spent refurbishing and equipping it.