OCEAN BEACH, CA. Last week the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the City’s Police Department has decided to purchase a mobile observation tower. Paying the $119,000 price tag with funds from a Homeland Security grant, the SDPD has already tried the tower out out on numerous occasions, and expects delivery of the two-storied platform in February.
Police told the U-T that they had used the tower at the beach over Labor Day, had used it at UTC during the recent holidays and at Qualcomm when the Raiders played the Chargers. “It has assisted us in making arrests, ” police Capt. Shelly Zimmerman told the newspaper, “and has certainly been a huge deterrent.” We’re told that the El Cajon police use a similar tower at Westfield Parkway Plaza shopping mall to “monitor crowds.”
ICx Technologies, of Arlington, VA, manufactures the tower. In their brochure, they call the tower “Skywatch Frontier” and describe all their product’s features and advantages. Only trouble is, the tower they offer – the Skywatch Frontier – “was originally designed to meet the needs of forward deployed military forces.” Holy cow!
The mobility and functionality of the Frontier make it ideal for use at impermanent bases or as part of security operations around critical infrastructure facilities.
“Critical infrastructure facilities?” Qualcomm, UTC, the beach on Labor Day, shopping malls? The brochure adds that “due to varying levels of enemy activities” the Frontier comes in 3 different types of armor and gun ports. it has an elevation of up to 25 feet and can observe over a second story roofline. What were the manufacturers’ intentions in building it?
The brochure states: “The Skywatch Frontier was developed with the intention of being deployed with our military forces and as such provides optional ballistic capabilities for those areas in which enemy activity is at its highest. Due to this inherent design, the Frontier can meet the rigors of expeditionary missions not only for the military, but also for border patrol and high level security arenas.”
The Skywatch Frontier can be loaded with a significant array of surveillance and monitoring equipment as well as high level communications capabilities.
The high profile also acts as a significant deterrent to enemy forces.
Clearly, this so-called platform, then, was developed by its manufacturer as a high-tech, mobile guard tower with gun ports. So, if the police get their tower, their Skywatch Frontier, what does that make the rest of us?