To keep an eye on some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, the New York City police department has acquired a small fleet of innovative surveillance vans. Built by TerraHawk, LLC of Dallas, Texas, the NYPD is using four Mobile Utility Surveillance Tower (MUST) vans to patrol some areas of the city that lost power. Animal New York says that the vehicles are being used in Staten Island, Far Rockaway, Coney Island, and Howard Beach.
The idea of mobile surveillance is nothing new, since we've all seen those little trailers in mall parking lots around the holiday shopping season, but TerraHawk has created an all-in-one vehicle that can be deployed to an area quickly. Driving around, the MUST looks like a raised-roof, four-wheel-drive Ford E-Series, but when needed, a tower extends from the rear of the van using scissor lifts to a height of 25 feet. Raising the pod takes less than two minutes, and it can be used in areas with winds of up to 40 miles per hour. For added stability, built-in jacks are used at each corner of the 9,600-pound van.

When parked, the MUST uses an efficient lithium-ion battery pack rather than a generator, which would burn fuel and create exhaust emissions.

How much does one of these eye-in-the-sky trucks cost? Well, in base form (without any on-board technology, ballistics protection or four-wheel drive), they start anywhere from $150,000 to $175,000. The units purchased by the NYPD are powered by Ford's 6.8-liter V10.

Scroll down to read more about the TerraHawk MUST in an official press release.

Show full PR text
Patented Mobile Tower Vehicles assist NYPD in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas

Police use elevated surveillance capsules to establish a presence and deter crime in neighborhoods with no power


DALLAS, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The New York City Police Department, through a GSA purchase, recently acquired four M.U.S.T. (Mobile Utility Surveillance Towers) from TerraHawk, LLC – a Dallas-based manufacturing company.

TerraHawk, LLC , is the only company in the world that owns a patent to manufacture this unique 25 foot- high surveillance platform mounted on a scissor lift that extends out of the top of a conversion vehicle.

During preparation and planning in the few days before massive hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of the East Coast, officials at NYPD immediately requested an expedited delivery and deployment of the four 4-wheel drive units that had previously been scheduled for later in the month.

TerraHawk's Owner and President, Tom James, said on Monday, "My operations team on the ground in New York has reported to me that the four units are currently deployed in the most hard-hit areas of New York including Staten Island, Far Rockaway and Howard Beach, Queens and Coney Island. We have been working along with officers at NYPD almost around the clock for the past week to provide on-site training and operational guidance. From what I understand, the officers are working in a state of emergency situation to maintain a police presence in the communities and our TerraHawk units are providing an elevated platform, fully powered with lighting and equipped with HurleyIR infrared cameras for monitoring areas without power where looting could easily occur."

James noted, "Our units are easily and quickly deployed in about two minutes and only require one operator to deploy. This allows a better response time to the benefit of law enforcement as situations change or arise in these neighborhoods without power. We have gotten good feedback from the field regarding the effectiveness and practicality of our patented technology."

The rapid response mobile tower vehicle has been a boon to other law enforcement endeavors around the country. With several units deployed at Sheriff's Departments on the Texas-Mexico border and many other units located strategically within major police departments across the United States, TerraHawk, LLC has found its product in high demand as part of the lucrative Mobile Surveillance Tower market that is estimated to gross 40-50 million dollars annually, world-wide.

Internationally, law enforcement officials in countries such as Brazil and Chile are eyeing TerraHawk's patented technology. The Ministry of Justice for the government of Brazil has issued public requests for mobile tower technology for use in the 2013 FIFA Confederation World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympics that will be held in Rio De Janeiro. James disclosed that his company has been contacted by government officials and company representatives are working to match their proven technology with these international requests.

James also said his company has a variety of chassis options in design and production and will be unveiling new models in the coming year. The light urban domestic models that were purchased by New York and Chicago Police Departments and were utilized during the NATO Summit protests in Chicago last May are equipped with a level of ballistic protection but James said his company can also produce fully-armored units on a larger vehicle chassis.

"We have been monitoring the situation in New York during this most trying time for law enforcement and think we have been able to provide a less complicated and more practical mobile tower solution in their time of need and we hope our technology will prove to be a valuable asset not only in emergencies but also in everyday use to one of the best-equipped and highly effective police departments in the world," concluded James.


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  • 52 Comments
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      At least they're made in Texas and based on a Ford, unlike the next phase of taxis.
      montegod7ss
      • 2 Years Ago
      99% of America sees this as the government protecting its people. 1% see it as the police state gaining ground, but won't do anything about it. Look at yourself and see if you have your head in the sand too.
      brucec039
      • 2 Years Ago
      Leave it to government to buy a $40,000 Van with $15,000 of structure and motors/batteries for $150,000, then park the things till they rot. I wonder how many patrols you could run for that kind of cash? You can also buy a surplus utility truck and put a man in the bucket for about $30,000. A canvas covered work area is another $500. Apparently they are unaware that tens of thousands of NYers work outside every day despite the weather.
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brucec039
        Um, look at any type of emergency vehicle. It's not as simple as saying its an X type of vehicle for this cost and then just add on some arbitrary number for what the rest of it costs. Everything costs money. Look at a brush type truck a FD would use. Usually on a heavy duty pick up chassis. Would be nothing for the completed piece to be a couple hundred thousand even though its only built on a $40k truck.
      mmmfloorpie
      • 2 Years Ago
      This seems pretty stupid to me. Wouldn't a camera on a 50 foot pole be better than a scissor lift box on a 25 foot pole?
      Footie Phantom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Waste of money? Yes - Will it be the biggest waste in all of this cleanup I doubt it....
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Footie Phantom
        Waste of money? Perhaps. But probably a drop in the bucket between what is spent on emergency vehicles in NYC with agencies as large as the NYPD and FDNY.
      comfy01
      • 2 Years Ago
      Man, what a great deer blind that would make.
      Viper1ex19
      • 2 Years Ago
      People are homeless and NY finds money to spend on Communist Security Vehicles? The Consequences of Your Vote,,, sucks doesn't it... Those people voted for those freaks,, they deserve everything they get.
      eb50tj
      • 2 Years Ago
      WHY isn't the money being spent to H E L P the victims and get the power back on???? Typical bureaucracy in action! And why aren't the people getting fined being helped instead of being punished for something that wann't their fault? We went through this many years ago with a destroyed property that we STILL had to make the mortgage payments on. AH Yes govt. in action.... Bail out the banks and screw the public just like the BIG BANKS!!!!
      bigcatdaddy
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is hilarious. Our government knows no end to spending tax payer dollars foolishly.
      k.naz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wouldn't it be easier to use mini UAV's for 1/10th the price with live feed through a camera? They're easier to maintain, require little resources and can patrol areas within a given distance without having to waste funds on such useless things.
      dave and mary
      • 2 Years Ago
      The X FEMA director was "fuming" about Sandy. Why? Because of slow support? Nope. Because the mentallity of the people is, "meh - we'll just stay put and the Federal gov't will take care of us". When they can't watch TV the next day, they're bitchin' about slow service. Americans are great aren't they?
      • 2 Years Ago
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        Paul Kelcz
        • 2 Years Ago
        you should do some research before posting sea urchin i live in howard beach and and see this police van all the time on cross bay blvd howard beach is made up mostly of white middle class to upper middle class people soo really must be nice living were you do prob didnt even loose power
          landoflostsouls
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Paul Kelcz
          You are correct Howard Beach is a middle class neighborhood but you are surronded by the ghetto that my friend is why you are seeing this van.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Paul Kelcz
          [blocked]
          landoflostsouls
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Paul Kelcz
          @seaurchin Sorry man I full heartly agree with everything you say except the last paragraph. Please tell me how Obama is the devil? Becuase he is black? That sort of talk is what I hear from people from SI and Howard Beach (no offense Paul.) All that is closted Rascism. You cant handle the fact the president is Black? My advise is get over it.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Paul Kelcz
          [blocked]
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