SALT LAKE CITY — Clearfield police are using a new machine called "the Armadillo," which will soon be used to fight crime, simply by sitting in front of potential problem homes.
"It's imposing," said Assistant Chief of Police Mike Stenquist. "Basically, it is to call attention to the problem. Let the people in the neighborhoods know that we're aware of what they're going through and that we're there to assist them."
Stenquist said he and Police Chief Greg Krusi learned about the program while attending a police chief's conference in Orlando, Fla., a few years ago. The idea was first developed by police in Illinois.
"Initially the police chief in Peoria used a police car for this very purpose," Stenquist said. "He parked it in front of a home where there was known drug-trafficking going on."
The next morning, Stenquist said the car was found vandalized. Windows were smashed up. The body was dented. The police chief there eventually got the idea of using an armored truck.
Stenquist said the Clearfield Police Department started searching for its own armored armadillo about four years ago. They eventually landed a deal with Brink's, based in Aurora, Colo., for a used late ’90s model.
"It was due to be retired or go to the junkyard," Stenquist said.
Instead, Brink's donated the truck. It was transported to Utah with the help of the Army National Guard and a federal drug grant. Stenquist said local auto-body shops also donated their time and materials to paint and fix up both the interior and exterior.
Stenquist said citizen requests are already coming in for the Armadillo. The department will review each situation before deciding where to place it first.
Surveillance cameras mounted around the outside will record continuously for up to four or five days. It's designed mainly to discourage drug trafficking but can serve other purposes.
"There's also the nuisance crimes," Stenquist said. "All-night partying or fighting, or situations like that, that really hinder or I guess decrease the quality of life for the neighborhoods."
While the vehicle is armored, Stenquist said it will not be used for SWAT or tactical situations. Rather, it's there just to be seen.
"It's a slow-moving, heavy truck," Stenquist said. "It's meant to be a little bit obnoxious."