Big Brother Is Watching You

Surveillance is a art, and like most arts, extremely difficult to do well.  On a long drive, pick out a car two or three in front of you and try to keep tabs on it.  Then try doing it at night.  Or pick out a person in a crowded area (a shopping mall during the holidays, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica or the Las Vegas Strip are good examples) and follow him or her. ..without getting noticed by the person, the mall cops or the real cops.  Challenging, right?

Physical surveillance is no easy task, even for a seasoned surveillance team like the one in An End to the Means.  The Lenox Sterling team has a hard time monitoring Kira Farooq so it employs a little help through some electronic aids. These days, surveillance is more science than art.

The use of electronic equipment in surveillance is nothing new.  Many cities like London employ closed-circuit television to monitor suspicious activity.  For those who have seen  The Bourne Ultimatum, the CIA Director tracks down Jason Bourne in after picking up his image on a CCTV feed.  In real life, the London camera system was instrumental in identifying several suspects in the 2005 London subway bombings.

But do thousands of cameras really help?  The New York City Police Department’s Counterterrorism Unit has followed London’s lead and installed thousands of cameras in Gotham.  However, some have accused Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of playing ‘big brother’ and turning New York City into a police state.
According to The Atlantic, closed circuit cameras do little to solve crimes while the  BBC reported 1000 London cameras (there are approximately 10,000) only solve one crime per year.

Then there’s the most recent story.  In a February 2011 article in the London Telegraph, a probationary officer in Sussex was investigating a string a burglaries when dispatch radioed him to tell him that they had picked up video of a suspicious person on closed-circuit TV.  Dispatch directed the police officer to the general location of the suspect until, after a few minutes, a sergeant walked into the room and realized the ‘suspect’ was none other than the probationary officer… following himself.  Brilliant.