ESCONDIDO – The Escondido City Council recently approved a resolution to allow the Escondido Police Department to purchase a portable security tower that will allow officers to watch over large public gatherings and events, as well as crowded parking lots during the holiday season.
The new equipment will be purchased using a $258,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, administered by the city of San Diego’s Office of Emergency Services.
The police and fire departments were awarded the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Grant in 2019. UASI funds support regional efforts to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism or disaster, according to the report.
For $220,000, Escondido will purchase the new SkyWatch mobile observation tower, allowing officers to monitor crowds from more than two stories high.
The rest of the grant money will be used to cover training costs for the new equipment.
The new tower will replace the department’s existing tower, which is due to be replaced and lacks equipment such as video cameras that will be included with the new model, according to Lisa Rodelo, business manager with the Escondido Police Department.
Several police departments throughout the County were also awarded portable security towers with observation systems.
“The Skytower Watch system is a regional asset that is interoperable and deployable. All towers throughout the County will be standardized by make and model to ensure interoperability,” said the report. “The towers will be used to improve community safety at public events and in crowded parking lots during the holiday season.”
According to anecdotal data from other departments and jurisdictions, similar surveillance systems are believed to be a deterrent to potential crime and may result in a lesser chance of criminal activity.
Escondido’s surveillance will have an observation booth with tinted windows that can accommodate up to two officers at a time. The booth is attached to hydraulic lifts that will raise and lower the platform as needed. The tower will also come with camera equipment.
Following the direction from the City of San Diego’s Office of Homeland Security, Flir Detection, Inc. has been approved as the sole source manufacturer, and Atlantic Diving Supply as the only distributor, for the Skytower Watch system, according to the report.