Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Patrol Operations Bureau
-Special Operations Division
Clearwater Police Department
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Clearwater Police Department will be conducting “Operation Safe Holidays” on Black Friday and Saturday. The purpose of the operation is twofold: it is designed to be an educational campaign (traffic, personal safety, etc.); as well as to deter vehicle burglaries as the holiday shopping season gets underway.
The Sheriff’s Office will be deploying SkyWatch, a manned mobile surveillance tower for the operation. On Black Friday, interested media will have the opportunity to get shots from atop SkyWatch.
Operation Safe Holidays will be take place from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both Black Friday and Saturday, November 29th and 30th, 2013.
Interested media will have the opportunity to get shots from atop SkyWatch on Black Friday between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m..
The Operation will take place at Westfield Countryside Mall located at 27001 US Highway 19 North in Clearwater. SkyWatch will be positioned directly across from PF Chang’s on the south side of the mall.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies and Clearwater Police officers will dedicate resources this Black Friday and Saturday to “Operation Safe Holidays” in an effort to assist the public in kicking off a safe holiday shopping season.
Sheriff’s deputies will deploy SkyWatch and man it along with an officer from the Clearwater Police Department. Clearwater Police Department will have additional officers on the ground in the parking lot and in the area of the mall dedicated to the operation.
The joint operation is an educational campaign aimed at promoting traffic and personal safety during the holiday shopping season. It is intended to remind shoppers to be aware of their surroundings to prevent becoming a victim of crime. The operation also aims to deter vehicle burglaries. Deputies and officers remind shoppers to lock their car doors.
SkyWatch, the manned mobile surveillance tower, which will be utilized during the operation, provides a 360-degree view from atop a two-story high elevated, enclosed platform. SkyWatch was obtained in 2012 through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. The tower is in the care and custody of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, but is deployed and available across the state to requesting law enforcement agencies.
Deputies say the advantages of SkyWatch include that it provides a maximum field of view, increases law enforcement’s ability to assess a situation and better respond to events as they occur. According to deputies the highly visible tower also serves as a deterrent to would be criminals.
SkyWatch is equipped with a camera which can be operated and viewed from remote; (i.e. a police cruiser.) It is also equipped with flood lights, directional lights, a weather stations and a lightning detector.
A photo of SkyWatch is attached.
For further information, please contact the Sheriff’s Public Information Office at 727-582-6221; or the Clearwater Police Department at 727- 224-7831.