Crowd surveillance camera mounted on police vehicle at daytime fair.

Elevating Public Safety: Knoxville PD’s Strategic Use of The RATT Mobile Surveillance Tower

Knoxville PD Leverages The RATT for Enhanced Situational Awareness

The Knoxville Police Department (PD) recently adopted The RATT, a Rapid All-Terrain Tower, to improve situational awareness and public safety at special events. This innovative mobile surveillance system addresses previous technology limitations and offers a robust solution for a bustling city like Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Challenge of Situational Awareness at Large Events

Ensuring public safety in a city of over 200,000 residents and 100 square miles is no small feat. Special events, particularly in downtown Knoxville and on the University of Tennessee campus, posed significant challenges due to limited real-time camera coverage. Patrol officers needed a more dynamic and optimized solution to keep an eye on large gatherings and mitigate potential risks.

Fortunately, Knoxville PD secured grant funding to enhance their technology array. Lieutenant Will Wilson and his team explored various options, ultimately discovering The RATT, a product manufactured locally. This mobile surveillance tower promised a significant upgrade in their capability to monitor and secure large events effectively.

Adopting a Unique Mobile Surveillance Solution

The RATT stands out due to its rapid deployment capability and versatility. Unlike cumbersome camera trailers, The RATT can be towed by any vehicle with a class 3 hitch receiver. Weighing just 100 pounds, it can be set up by a single person in under ten minutes. The mast can extend up to 35 feet, providing a high vantage point for cameras, lights, or antennas.

The unit’s design includes a built-in bubble level and adjustable handle, making it adaptable to various terrains. Powering the system is straightforward, requiring only a 12-volt DC trailer plug or vehicle cigarette lighter. This ease of use and flexibility make The RATT an ideal tool for enhancing situational awareness at crowded events.

Upon adopting The RATT in the spring of 2023, Knoxville PD officers quickly saw its benefits. The RATT’s dynamic and interactive camera placement in dense areas, such as the Tennessee Valley Fair and the Christmas Parade on Gay Street, provided significant improvements over traditional camera trailers.

Benefits and Collaboration with Traditional Systems

Knoxville PD often deploys The RATT alongside traditional camera trailers, leveraging the unique strengths of each system. The RATT’s mobility allows it to be placed directly within crowded areas, while the more stationary camera trailers can cover peripheral zones.

Since incorporating The RATT, Knoxville PD has not encountered any critical incidents at public events. The visible presence of mobile surveillance acts as a deterrent, discouraging potential illegal activities. Additionally, The RATT’s solid-state drive with recording capabilities has provided valuable intelligence for investigations, aiding in the identification of persons of interest.

Overcoming Challenges and Future Prospects

Adopting new technology often comes with challenges, and The RATT was no exception. Initially, Knoxville PD faced bandwidth issues during larger events due to high cell phone usage by attendees. However, the technical support from Critical Tech Solutions, the manufacturer, was instrumental in overcoming these hurdles.

Critical Tech Solutions’ commitment to innovation and customer support has been invaluable. They have continuously sought feedback from Knoxville PD, even attending events to understand the practical application of their product better. This collaboration has not only resolved initial issues but also spurred ongoing improvements to The RATT, ensuring it meets the evolving needs of law enforcement.

For more detailed insights, read the full case study on Police1: How Knoxville PD increased situational awareness at special events

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