‘Exterminator’ armored truck will watch Illinois neighborhoods

Creative law enforcement isn’t new to St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus.

Last year, the dean of the region’s chief cops sponsored a “haunted crack house” that used an old grange hall to depict the life of a young drug addict.

Before that, Justus publicized a “drug house of the week,” aimed at shaming dealers into leaving town.

On Tuesday, his deputies lifted a plastic tarp to unveil his newest idea: an armored truck to park in problem neighborhoods as a vandal-proof platform to transmit live pictures.

“I thought about a lot of names … I thought ‘The Cockroach’ would’ve probably been appropriate, but we settled on ‘The Exterminator,'” Justus told reporters.

The donated and rebuilt armored truck, once used to carry cash, is fitted with cameras, digital recorders and gear to stream live video. Deputies will park it in front of the “dwellings of troublemakers” — for days at a time, if necessary — to reduce nuisance crimes.

“It sends a message,” Justus said. “We will not tolerate drug trafficking, littered lawns, loud noise and other neighborhood nuisances.” He said the cameras should keep criminals on the run and give residents peace of mind.

Critics say such policing efforts are ineffectual, and just move crime down the road. Justus said the truck will address local problems one at a time. “It’s that house down the street. That is their concern in their neighborhood,” the longtime sheriff suggested.

Residents can request the truck by contacting the Sheriff’s Department online at www.theexterminator.us, or by phoning 618-277-3505.

“I lay in bed at night dreaming this stuff up,” Justus joked.

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http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_1a7a1334-7e9a-5b0e-832e-a7cbf0a23c62.html

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