Modesto cops add 'armadillo' to force

MODESTO - Modesto police have a lot more eyes on the streets of troubled neighborhoods with the addition of an "armadillo."

That's the name of the vehicle that resembles a SWAT truck but is actually equipped with eight cameras that feed live images to police buildings, police cars, and even officers' phones.

"We're getting it out there for citizens who are concerned with a drug house or gang activity in their neighborhood," police spokesperson Heather Graves said.

Graves said the armadillo will be put in areas where neighbors have phoned in their complaints of criminal activity. She said it will only be used in public places where an officer could use his vision to see the same activity.

Modesto resident Esmerelda Garcia had no problem if the vehicle ended up parked near her home.

"It's about time they did something like that. If you're a productive member of society, you have nothing to worry about," she said.

Graves said Modesto has lost about 60 officers over the last five years. The armadillo and its cameras are designed to spot or prevent behavior that officers typically would have.

The Ceres Police Department gave the truck to Modesto and grants paid for the cameras, Graves said.


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