January 27, 2012
FORT LAUDERDALE—Tania Ouaknine is convinced the police are watching her.
She's not paranoid — it says as much on the red sign painted along the side on the hulking armored truck that's been parked in front of her eight-room Parisian Motel for several days.
"Warning: You are under video surveillance," reads the bold message on the side of the truck.
From the front bumper of the menacing vehicle, another sign taunts: "Whatcha gonna do when we come for you?"
The truck is a new weapon for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in the fight against drugs and neighborhood nuisances, and it looks like a Winnebago on steroids. They call it "The Peacemaker," and it may be a first in South Florida.
Mixing high tech with simplicity, the in-your-face strategy is straightforward: load an out-of-service armored truck with some of the latest surveillance equipment available and decorate it with police emblems. Then, simply leave it parked in front of trouble spots.
"Make no mistakes about it," said Detective Travis Mandell. "We want people to know that we are watching the bad guys."