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.

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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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