Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spycam Force or Spycam Farce?

"Three miles away, in a bunkerlike, red granite building near Greektown, Ron Huberman watches the young man on a PC screen. 'You see that guy?' asks Huberman, the 33-year-old chief of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. 'He's pitching dope - you can tell. Fucker.'

With a move of his mouse, Huberman pans to the right. We're looking down at a second man, in a beige coat. He has a brown paper bag in one hand and a wad of cash in the other. 'He's involved,' Huberman says, staring hard at the screen.

No cop, even undercover, could ever get this close for this long. But the cameras - housed in checkerboard-patterned, 2-foot-tall boxes the police here call pods - can zoom in so tight I can see the wisps of a mustache. Huberman decides not to have his suspected dealers picked up; too much of an Enemy of the State move to pull with a reporter around, perhaps. But the footage will be stored for review by antinarcotics teams. 'Now you see the power of what we're doing?' Huberman asks, still staring at the screen.

[WagNews: Oh yeah. We see it alright.]


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