“We are focusing on public areas, we’re not trying to impede anyone’s privacy”
February 27, 2014
Police in Modesto, California unveiled a newly acquired surveillance vehicle this week which will video and audio record local residents throughout the city.
The Armadillo, a refurbished armored truck, is equipped with four high definition cameras, four wide-angle lens cameras and advanced audio recording capabilities.
“We want this to serve as a deterrent or extra eyes out there for us,” police spokeswoman Heather Graves told Fox 40 News. “We are focusing on public areas, we’re not trying to impede anyone’s privacy.”
The vehicle’s surveillance features can also be accessed remotely, allowing officers to park the vehicle in any area of the city and control the cameras’ zooming abilities from a separate location.
“Smile, you’re on camera,” a bold message on the side of the truck reads.
While the vehicle itself was donated by a nearby precinct, Fox 40 notes that the surveillance equipment was purchased with “grant money,” likely from the Department of Homeland Security.
In a press release Tuesday the Modesto Police Department briefly mentioned the vehicle’s rollout, giving no specifics on how long obtained footage would be kept.
Despite Fox 40’s decision to only interview a supporter of the new armored truck, the news group’s Facebook page painted a much different picture.
“Suddenly all the dystopian books I read in high school make sense. I guess they were trying to prepare us for our future,” one commenter noted.
Already patrolling areas of the city, the vehicle is a staunch representation of 21st century America, where even military hardware once used in foreign countries is now aimed at the general public.
Several other departments across the country including a precinct in Fort Lauderdale have implemented the use of surveillance vehicles as well, with real-time video footage feeding directly into police headquarters.
Unfortunately, federal agencies such as the DHS, who labels self-described “liberty lovers” as domestic extremists, have flooded countless police departments with surveillance and military equipment.
This week the U.S. Army announced that it would be giving away 13,000 Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, designed for the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq, to law enforcement agencies here at home.
Last August, a former Marine Corps Colonel in Concord, New Hampshire warned that the DHS was building a “domestic army” of militarized police. Only days prior, Concord’s police chief secretly told the DHS that his department needed an armored vehicle to deal with the “threat” posed by libertarians and Occupy activists.
Other agencies like the Department of Defense have unloaded countless military vehicles on police departments also, with police in Utah recently receiving armored vehicles and grenade launchers.
Incredibly, even Ohio State University campus police obtained an armored vehicle last year, ignoring requests by media to explain the acquisition.
While police across the country argue that such equipment will only be used against suspected criminals, burgeoning surveillance revelations have only worked to create distrust among the public.