Sky Watch returns to Crown Heights (and Prospect Heights)
Residents can't miss it: the NYPD's "Mobile Surveillance Unit" or "Sky Watch" has returned to Franklin Ave (between Eastern and Union) after a stint on St. John's and Franklin in October. As of this morning, there was another one of these two-story towers o' police presence at Washington and Park. Why? The police stationed at the towers were generally polite but vague: the towers are there to help them police the area. Great.
In the past, police have told reporters that the sky watch towers are placed in response to spikes in crime, and while the technology is fairly new to the force, they've reported crime reductions in the areas that they've deployed it, including further east in Crown Heights. This makes sense: a big police tower keeps me from doing anything illegal within sight of it, and sufficiently resembles the evil beast machines from the Empire Strikes Back (I have been informed that they are called "AT-ATs" by those in the know) to strike a bit of good old fashioned fear in my heart. Still, I can't imagine they're that useful beyond immediate visual and psychological deterrence (not that this isn't a valuable use): they can't see over buildings or hills, and they're too obvious to really allow for recon work.
The only thing I've seen lately that suggest crime may have spiked in the area are the ubiquitous "LAB" tags that popped up everywhere along Franklin in the last couple of weeks. I wonder what brought the NYPD out to Washington--maybe they wanted to make sure the customers at Tom's didn't get too unruly while waiting out in the cold.