Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
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SkyWatch tower to protect Countryside mall shoppers


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The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Clearwater Police Department are teaming up to protect Black Friday shoppers.

The sheriff’s office is setting up SkyWatch, a manned mobile surveillance tower, at Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N.

The tower will be set up Friday and Saturday as part of “Operation Safe Holidays,” an effort to deter vehicle burglaries as well as monitor traffic and other activities to kick off a safe holiday shopping season.

Shoppers will be able to see the tower on the south side of the mall, across from PF Chang’s restaurant.

Sheriff’s deputies will deploy SkyWatch and man it along with a Clearwater police officer.

Clearwater police will have additional officers in the parking lot and mall.

The tower provides a 360-degree view from atop a two-story high elevated, enclosed platform. It was obtained by the sheriff’s department in 2012 through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security and is available to requesting law enforcement agencies statewide.

It is equipped with a camera that can be operated and viewed remotely. It also is equipped with flood lights, directional lights, a weather station and lightning detector.

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