New purchase gives Peoria police a birdseye view of crime

The Peoria Police Department is using a new purchase to crack down on crime.
 
It deployed the SkyWatch tower for the first time on Black Friday in the Target shopping center near 79th Avenue and Bell Road.  
 
"It's a surveillance tower that goes about 30 feet up in the air," said Sgt. Hayato Scheideman.
 
The device gives officers a better vantage point of the parking lots.  
 
Behind the tinted glass, one officer keeps an eye out for crime using binoculars and a camera with night vision.  
 
"It's 360 as well and it goes all the way around," Scheideman said. "While it's on, it's constantly recording."
 
If something's not right, they radio to officers on the ground.  
 
"You know if anybody's walking in between vehicles or if something is suspicious, then whoever's up in the tower will kick it out to the bike teams," Scheideman said.
 
That constant surveillance puts shoppers at ease. Especially those who've been victims of holiday theft, like Kenneth Cisneros.  
 
"I've had my car broken into at Christmas a couple of times before," he says, "and it's not a good feeling. They stole my kids' Christmas presents."
 
Margaret Busch also likes the idea.
 
"I think that's really cool technology to have now and I definitely feel like that will be a deterrent to any thieves," Busch said.
 
The tower was purchased in large part by a $60,000 grant from the Tohono O'odham Nation to increase public safety in Peoria. 
 
Officers say it'll stay at Target until Sunday and be deployed at other locations in the city throughout December.
 
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