Dearborn - Police could soon be getting some extra backup — from their cars.
Ford Motor has a new surveillance system for police cars that automatically sounds a chime, locks the doors and puts up the windows if it detects someone approaching the car from behind.
The system - which Ford is patenting - is the first of its kind.
The vice president of operations at Auburn, California-based InterMotive, which helped Ford develop it, Marc Ellison, said: "It's like insurance...you hope you never need it, but if you do, it gives the officer a few extra seconds of warning."
Backup cameras and sensors usually only work when a car is in reverse.
The new system, dubbed "Surveillance Mode," allows an officer to use them while the car is parked.
An image from the backup camera is beamed onto the rearview mirror, so the officer can keep an eye on the rear of the car.
If someone comes too close, four sensors on the rear bumper will detect them.
The system works during the day and at night when officers are often the most vulnerable.
It can be turned off if officers are in high traffic areas with a lot of pedestrians.
No one keeps track of the number of police officers killed in their cars each year, but it's not uncommon for criminals to target officers there, says Steve Groeninger, a spokesperson for the national law enforcement officers memorial fund.