The Evanston Police Department today showed off its new “armored surveillance vehicle” — a repurposed Brinks truck equipped with the latest in camera technology.

The truck, a 1997 model with 429,000 miles on the odometer, was turned over to the city by Brinks for $10.

After about $3,000 in work to repair it mechanically and give it a new paint job, and with the addition of about $12,000 in camera equipment and battery units that will let it run untended for a week to 10 days, the city has a vehicle that Police Chief Richard Eddington says “will have a huge impact on quality of life issues.”

Top: The new armored surveillance vehicle. Above: One it its five roof-mounted cameras.

Eddington, who says he got the idea about three years ago after seeing a similar vehicle being shown off at a police chief’s conference by Peoria police, says parking the vehicle on a street “will help people who are tired of misbehavior that disrupts the tranquility of their neighborhood.”

Detective Brian Bartz, who’s largely responsible for designing and equipping the vehicle for its new surveillance role, says he had it out recently on the city’s west side.

After it was parked there for a couple of days, when he went to pick it up on Saturday, three different residents came out, thanked him for having it there and asked when the department would be bringing it back, Bartz said.

Cmdr. Jay Parrott says that the armored car is better than a regular squad for such surveillance activity in part because it’s meant to be impressive and draw attention to itself.

“We want people to know it’s there and that, ‘hey, you’re being recorded, so whatever you were up to, don’t do it.'” Parrott said.

A monitor inside the police station showing an image from the truck’s cab-mounted camera. Officers in the field can also monitor the cameras from a smart phone or similar device.

The truck also provides a higher viewing angle for the five roof-mounted cameras than would be available from a regular squad car.

It also has sixth camera mounted in the cab that has full pan, tilt and zoom capability.

Bartz says the truck records video from the cameras on board and also transmits video both using wi-fi to any nearby squad car and over the Verizon wireless network to monitoring stations at the Evanston police station.

Eddington says that with the latest camera technology the new Evanston vehicle may be the most sophisticated version of the armored-car conversion concept, which is being used in other communities including Milwaukee, Wis., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The next planned enhancement for the vehicle is to add solar panels to the roof, to give it a green touch and a longer on-duty cycle before it has to be moved to recharge the batteries.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. broken windows broken idea

    This is premised on the "broken windows" theory of policing and crime control which was all popular about 15 years ago but now has largely been disproven and so now we have an armored vehicle to violate privacy.  I try to keep it positive in general, but this is both ineffective and a kind of rights violation that I don't think does us any good.  But I am glad people feel good //sarcasm//.  How often will it be parked on the north side?  Don't park it on my street.  I value my property value.  

    1. bbzzzzttt

      thanks for playing, but there is no expectation of privacy on the public way. if people want to act a fool, you are right, they will. but this is probably  very cost effective method for the police of giving at least some people a break from the shenanigans of misbehaving groups. don't be so full of yourself to think the police have any interest in you if you are not breaking any laws. if I had groups of noisy upstarts ruining my daily tranquility, you can bet I'd want it on my block.

  2. So…

    So they'll just commit crime a block over instead when they see this obvious monstrosity. May as well have just gotten a bunch of blended in vans.

  3. I’ll take it!

    Since neither Joy Dawn or ME AGAIN  want this most beautiful vehicle in front of their house or on their block, please inform the Evanston Police that they are more than welcome to park it on my block and in front of my house any time they want.  And if they get a second vehicle, they can park it in my alley!

    And, after Boston, if I hear one more arguement about "rights violations", I am going to puke!

  4. bzzt

    thank you for playing!  cite the case that upholds this kind of survillance.  You can't.  There is no general expectaiotn of privacy in public (duh), but neither has continuous surveillance of this sort been vetted by the Supreme Court in this country.  the doctrine you are referring to primarily comes from photograpy.  Have you read the recent FL caase on dogs OUTSIDE the home as an invasion of privacy?  If any of these cameras have a view into a window in your home, you have a case.  and they are parking them in residential areas.  residences are, according to this court, "first among equals" in terms of expectations of privacy.  New technologies, new cases — and that language is Scalia — not exactly your left of center Justice.  

    why do you think the police cameras you see all over Chicago are so high up?  to avoid this kind of lawsuit.  Street level changes things.

    It also has freedom of association and assembly implications.  The ACLU is suing Denver right now over their 50 cameras on these grounds.

    You can want the trucks – that's fine, but don't pretend the constitutionality of this kind of thing is settled law.  


    1. Keep trying

      Seeing INTO a window is far different than SEEING a window. I can stand outside a house all day and stare at a window on a house. That does not mean I can make out the details behind the glass. Not sure the police would be that stupid to record video inside a home without a warrant using something the size of a small house that everyone knows is there. And this is not FL and there are no dogs. Chicagos cameras are so high because they dont want to spend endless time and dollars fixing them when they are low enough to be in reach of baseball bats, sticks and rocks. Did you even think this out? Those are pan tilt zoom cameras and can zoom blocks away into high rises, homes, apartments, so your height arguement is invalid as well.

      Numerous cities across the country have all sorts of mobile overt surveillance platforms. I dont think private industry would invest millions into developing products going on someone's misguided understanding of what privacy is.

      1. no case

        but ok . . . you really like surveillance trucks.  and think that kind of surveillance in constitutional.  I hear you. and disagree.  I don't like them and think they are unconstitutional.   

  5. This article and the comments

    This article and the comments suggest that some people have a misconception about the way these trucks work.  Surveilance does not prevent crime.  The perception of a police presence prevents crime.

    The police should have bought cheap cameras and focused their spending on the nice paint job.

  6. Park in front of my house

    You can bring that truck right over to my house and park it.

    I am worried every day about the people who speed so fast down the street that they fly off the speed bump.  They are not residents of this neighborhood.  Rather, they are drivers avoiding traffic on Asbury or Ridge so that they can drive faster down a school zone during the exact same hour that school lets out and there are dozens of children crossing streets and walking  home.

    Perhaps a parked camera truck can get the plate numbers of these law breakers, speedsters, bad drivers, who think nothing of flying through a neighborhood packed with little kids.

  7. We had this truck parked for

    We had this truck parked for a few days on my street and it's been more quiet then I've ever seen, in years! I welcome it and so do all my neighbors. They moved it down a few streets and it's still quiet on our street. Thank you Evanston PD! It's been nice to not have fights, yelling and drug deals! 

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *