By Jade Bulecza - bio | email
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) –Police were out in force Friday patrolling more than just the roads. Law enforcement spent Black Friday keeping an eye on the heavy foot traffic at busy shopping centers.
April Knox and her family left Waycross this morning a little after two to shop in Valdosta.
"Valdosta has better shopping opportunities, a nicer mall than Waycross, most definitely, and more stores," said April Knox.
Another shopper started at 6 a.m.
"I'm just out doing a lot of Christmas shopping, just enjoying myself, and I've found some great deals," said Zekia Bivins.
For many, the holiday season is for spending, giving, and time with family but for police it's a time to increase security. One way they do that is by using their mobile command vehicle equipped with a camera that's raised 40 feet high.
"If you have shoplifters exiting the mall area and you hear a description go out, then our camera operator in our mobile command post can train in on those areas, said Capt. Bobbi McGraw. "If the offender's leaving the area, they (camera operator) can give directions to the officers responding to the calls."
The command vehicle is station at the Valdosta Mall from now until December 30. The camera monitors the mall parking lot and Norman drive businesses and their parking lots. It has the capability to zoom, up to a mile away.
Valdosta Police are watching for criminal activity and any traffic problems around popular shopping sites. The camera can pan 360 degrees and zoom in close enough to read license plates.
The vehicle has been a part of the force since January 2007.
"It's a form of deterrence and it let's them know that we're out watching," said School Resource Officer Sabrina Smith. "It gives them a sense of security being out shopping especially this time of year."
It's manned by Valdosta Police officers at all times.
Police also remind us to lock car doors, put purchases in your trunk and to always be aware of your surroundings.
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