EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — The Evansville Police Department says The Guardian not only helps to deter crime, but also works to keep a watchful eye on city neighborhoods.
Officials say the program’s background and history sets it apart from other ways to fight crime.
“We try to spread them out evenly, and how we determine where they go is through crime prevention officers,” explained Evansville Police Dept. Public Information Officer Sgt. Anna Gray. “We listen to members of the neighborhoods who request them, a lot of businesses call in and request them.”
Evansville Police brought the Guardian program to the city in 2012. At the time, Evansville neighborhood associations went to a regional conference and one of the agencies had a workshop on the Guardian program.
Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin, who at the time was a crime prevention officer, made adding the Guardian program to the city one of his first initiatives as chief in 2012.
The armored trucks were actually donated to the EPD by Brink’s, a popular bullet-resistant truck known to carry money and valuable goods.
For Evansville residents like Perri Hammett, the Evansville Police Department’s Guardian means a sense of security.
“I’m seeing consistency with neighborhoods liking the Guardian and noticing a difference in the loitering and the noise and illegal activity,” Hammett said. “I think it is a good idea.”
Hammett said she sees The Guardian as a way to combat crime that often goes unseen.
“I live very close to the University of Evansville, so there are a lot of college aged youth and it can be a little rambunctious, so with The Gaurdian around just having everyone know that they are there, has really decreased the loitering and especially the number of students and the number of incidents with students,” Hammett said.
EPD said their Guardian fleet consists of two trucks and three of the smaller trailers which were donated by the military.
All five units are retrofitted with cameras and other gear for surveillance or emergency situations.
Evansville Police could not show us inside one of the vehicles for security privacy reasons but they say they are always watching.
“It is a very basic concept, it obviously says Evansville Police, we are not trying to hide the fact that we are being sneaky and we are watching and recording,” Sgt. Gray said.
Police say the guardian program is seperate from EPD’s mobile command vehicle used in critical incidents.
Gray said at the end of the day, it’s all about community policing and making sure neighbors feel safe.
“You know most neighbors, most of the time like to see it and I think the more that people understand what it does and why it’s there, this is definitely a tool that’s a positive thing,” Gray said.
The Guardian is moved often, sometimes every week just depending on requests from the community. For more information on how to request the Guardian click here.
(This story was originally published on May 27, 2020)