City of Charleston police are pursuing a mobile observation camera that can be pulled by trailer and quickly set up to observe large crowds.

The camera can rise by pole up to 20 feet in the air and can be monitored by officers in cars and in the department’s command headquarters.

Police Chief Greg Mullen said the purpose is to add another level of viewing through a pre-positioned eye in the sky in places where there may not be enough officers or other observation platforms.

Large public gatherings, like the Cooper River Bridge Run, would be the most obvious use, he said.

“After Boston, there’s a lot of things we’ll be doing different in terms of special events,” he said.

Mullen’s comments came as City Council on Tuesday signed off on pursuing a $34,325 federal justice assistance grant to buy the device.

Additionally, Mullen said the camera could be used to watch high crime areas, showing activity there in real time. The camera has a viewing site range of several blocks and can be placed in a spot for days at a time.

“This will allow officers the ability to see in real-time crimes that may be occurring and responded as needed,” the grant documents say.

It also would have an intelligence-gathering purpose. “The video would also be stored in our incumbent video management system,” the documents say.

Mullen said there would be no plans to try to hide or camouflage the camera’s presence when it is in use, saying he wants people to know it’s there.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.