Ford has found a new use for some of the vehicle sensor systems that help drivers monitor traffic. A new surveillance mode developed in collaboration with California-based Intermotive Inc. uses these sensor systems to give police officers "eyes on the back of their heads," making them aware of any potential dangers behind their vehicles.

Ford detailed surveillance mode, which is available on its 2014 Police Interceptor models, last week. It works when the officer has the car in park, and is designed to offer protection when he or she is performing in-car work like filling out paperwork or monitoring for speeders.

Utilizing existing vehicle systems – a back-up camera, cross-traffic alert and reverse park assist – surveillance mode monitors the rear of the car. When a person approaching the vehicle is detected, the system alerts the officer and automatically locks the doors and rolls up the windows. The camera provides a look at who or what is approaching. The idea is to quickly alert the driver of potential dangers from behind, such as an assailant trying to sneak up on the car. Surveillance mode can be turned off in urban areas where heavy foot traffic would render it a nuisance.

Randy Freiburger, Ford police and ambulance fleet supervisor, thought up the system after riding along with police officers and analyzing their needs.

"I can tell you from personal experience at night that officer security is a critical concern," says Freiburger. "Unfortunately, there are people with bad intentions who sneak up on police officers."

Surveillance mode is available on the 2014 Ford Police Interceptor sedan and utility vehicle. The video below provides a closer look.

Ford uses existing driving technologies for police surveillance