Monday, February 12, 2007

Cameras - No One Watching

Sun Times columnist (and occasional reader of this website) Mark Brown writes about an incident on the CTA the last year:
  • Ted and Kathy Ptak were coming home from a late dinner a few days before Christmas when a pickpocket lifted Ted's wallet as they were boarding the CTA's Blue Line at the Jackson Street station.
Ted chased and caught one of the pickpockets, but lost him when the criminal's partner showed up and tossed Ted his wallet in a diversionary tactic.
  • Ted, you see, is a veteran Chicago Police officer who was off duty and unarmed on the night in question. As a police officer, he was pretty confident the pickpockets could be caught -- especially with an assist from the new surveillance cameras the CTA has been installing at mass transit stations throughout the city as part of the big Homeland Security push.
  • Ted figured that would be enough to get somebody to make sure the video was preserved for a follow-up investigation.

    It wasn't until a detective did contact him -- three weeks later -- that Ted was told nobody had put a hold on the video and now it was too late. It had been recorded over. Ted couldn't identify his assailants from photo lineups of known pickpockets. Basically, the investigation was at a dead end from the point it started.

    And that really ticked off Kathy Ptak, who did something the wives of police officers don't normally do, that is, complain to the press.

    In particular, Kathy wondered why we're spending all this money to install these cameras if they aren't being put to proper use.

Hopefully, there isn't a brick placed upon Ted Ptak's career due to his wife's wondering what all of us have probably wondered and most likely speculated about over beers - does anyone ever really monitor or view all this camera data? It seems the answer (as everyone suspected) is "No."

These cameras are merely flashy devices that the mayor and aldercreatures throw up on poles so that citizens feel that someone is watching over them when the police are out of sight. We know that district teams are required to run POD missions daily, but the cameras are limited by being fixed in place and dope boys merely have to move around a corner to operate with impunity. Then you have these other cameras run by other agencies that have just about no capability to be monitored live and re-record over themselves within a day or less if holds aren't put on tapes. The camera's purpose isn't to record crime - it's to make the camera manufacturers rich.

Career advice to the next ambitious up and coming mayoral Chief of Staff - figure out a program by which you can collect, analyze, process, sort and store all the camera feeds from all the city agencies that run cameras. You're going to need storage capacity in the magnitudes of several terabytes per month. Just credit SCC for the idea.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smoke and Mirrors-
Smoke and Mirrors-

Seems CTA has taken a page from the State of Chicago's play book.

Putting up cameras just gives the citizens a false sense of security, and stories like this just gives criminals the confidence they will go uncaught.

2/12/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the cameras are like the caps program, smoke in mirrors. this whole department is going down hill fast. fat boy doesnt care. remember we only care about gangs guns drugs and pizza!

2/12/2007 12:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, (I think), sometimes the cameras can be watched, and "sometimes", the video from the cameras can be captured and recorded, if somebody submits a written request that the camera video be captured and examined.....and, MAYBE, someone can try and determine from the video who the bad guy was.....the bottom lime: the cameras, based on a "cost v benefit" analysis, are useless.....

2/12/2007 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One has to wonder why an off duty Chicago Police Officer would ride ANY public conveyance with a family member and fail to be armed.

2/12/2007 03:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont blame the cameras, blame the three weeks later part. Detectives have alot to do and in the grand scheme of things, following up on a pickpocet case in which the victim already got his wallet back isnt high on the to do list. He should tell his wife to shut her big yapper, it only makes him look bad. After all, he (a cop) couldnt catch the bad guy, and couldnt even I.D. them from a photos. Unless the video clearly showed the offenders face(which we all know it wouldnt have) what good would it have been? Here is a reality check wifey, people steal things, and they get away with it ALOT. Dont want to be around the element, then pay for parking and drive yourself cheap ass.. So stifel yourself dingbat, the police get enough negative press already.

2/12/2007 03:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2/12/2007 06:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Try to retrieve one of those tapes in a timely fashion when you have someone in custody. No one ever seems to be in that OEC trailer After numerous calls you STILL can't get someone to respond, just leave a message and maybe they'll get back to you, most often not. It becomes an exercise in futility especially when you later discover that many of cameras don't so many other things in the City....smoke and mirrors.

2/12/2007 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teddy, why did you go home and wait an hour before you called to report it. You didn't think it was a big deal did you? Now tell your wife thanks for your write up. You should of kept a muzzle on her. Retire and move already.

2/12/2007 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cannot be armed if you have been drinking. Dept. General orders prohibit this.. Get drunk while packing, lose your job!

2/12/2007 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 2007, da mare is budgeting $1,000,000 for more cameras to be installed throughout the city. From what I've heard, it costs about 5K (give or take a grand) per camera (installation included)

So, according to those numbers, we should be getting about 200 more of these useless things.

If 50 more went up, I'd be shocked.

Somebody is getting very rich off this scam.

2/12/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous constructive criticism said...

12:36 AM

Did you ever notice that you can often identify anonymous serial posters by their abysmal spelling and grammar?

The metaphor is "smoke AND mirrors", not "smoke IN mirrors".

To a few others, note correct spellings.

"homIcide", NOT "homOcide"

police "moralE", not "moral" (the MORAL of the story is)

Huge difference between preposition "to" and adverb "too"

Ditto with "they're" and "there"

Typos are one thing. Spelling and grammar on this site is downright embarrassing.

2/12/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The POD tapes are distroyed after 72 hours.

2/12/2007 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look who runs oec! A HDO hack dumb as a stone1 Then we have "Mr trotter mr trotter", no edumucation jethro barely gradated skool! cameras? waste of more tax payers money and daley will walk right in office again, when oh when will he and stroger,blago,white and company be indicted! Ever!

2/12/2007 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No gun on the CTA means this guy aint all there. Why? Why? Why?

I think he was to embarassed or lazy to get the ball rolling in this. If it was me, besides having my gun, I would have started making phone calls to get the tape saved. I'm sure a few calls to mass transit would have sufficed.

2/12/2007 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
One has to wonder why an off duty Chicago Police Officer would ride ANY public conveyance with a family member and fail to be armed.

2/12/2007 03:21:00 AM

Ok, Eastwood. Are you gona put a cap in a pickpocket? Say bye bye to your job and hello foreclosure.

2/12/2007 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you call 911 get it in the event narra that there is a camera nearby and request a hold.

2/12/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for the coppers wife. I'm glad she stood up for the both of them and drew attention to the broken system we have and all the incompetance in this fucked up city.

Im on the job. I tried to use the camera footing to solve a shooting. I filled out the proper paperwork in the time frame required and asked to view the pod footage. I never heard another thing after that. I followed up on it and they lost my paperwork and the footage was deleted. What a fucking joke...

2/12/2007 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, CPD has no control of CTA cameras, but if you call special employment in a timely fashion, within 72hrs, you could probably have saved the video.

Which brings me to my second point, why did you have to wait 2 weeks for the detective to order video? Wasn't there a preliminary investigator(P.O.) assigned to the paper? Anybody can order video, but most officers that constantly complain about everyone else on this site are a bunch of lazy F---s who are looking to do as little as possible, write the case report on one side of the paper and move on, even when the case involves an off duty P.O. How many times have you heard "I don't get paid to the Detective's job for them." Many more cases could be solved with a thorough preliminary investigation instead of the bare minimum.

2/12/2007 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drunk or sober, last place I would be at night without a gun, and with my wife, girlfriend or significant other is a CTA "L" station.

2/12/2007 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous FORMER LAPA said...



2/12/2007 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this stems from the incident with Cline's kid getting robbed on the EL too. She was pissed that the kid got the extra treatment but her husband with 37 years on got zip. You know what though, Cline's kid called the police right away. Ptak went home and called.
Also, she flat out lied to Marc Brown, it wasn't three weeks later it was five days. She's a big liar and sorry for Ted Ptak that he is married to her. But what the f%#& do we really care about this for, We lost one of our own today. I think we should drop this bs she started and pray for our fallen brother and his family. RIP Jose.

2/12/2007 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask the retailers, cameras dont't have any deterent value if the criminal knows theres no man power to back them up.

2/12/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous to constructive criticism said...

O.K. Dennis or is it Denis or maybe Denise. We all know you are the Spelling Police.

Oh shit, maybe I should have used a coma in the first sentence.

Yes, and I still put the paper clip on the side of the report, just the way you like it...

2/12/2007 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous retired P.O. said...


I am a retired P.O. with a carry concealed card. I'm stuck with jury duty at the Daley center. I plan on taking the L. I'd like to carry my snub. Will they let me in the Daley center with my snub?

2/12/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry Officer Ptak was robbed, and even happier that he wasn't hurt. My only question here is why wasn't he armed? Why didn't he have a gun. The way things are now, I take my gun to church-just in case.

2/12/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
You cannot be armed if you have been drinking. Dept. General orders prohibit this.. Get drunk while packing, lose your job!

2/12/2007 08:00:00 AM

You have no clue bonehead. better be judged by 12 than carried by 6 stupid ass. the job can kiss my ass if it comes down to saving my life, my families life or that of some citizens minding their business cause i have a few beers in me. whatever

2/12/2007 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I should have used a coma [sic] in the first sentence." - 6:28 PM

Unless you are unconscious, try "comMa."

7:23 PM (H.R. 218 Retiree)

The CCSO will NOT allow you to bring your weapon into the bldg. While they might store it for you, you'd be best advised to leave it at home or skip out on jury duty.

2/12/2007 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous to retired P.O. said...

You will have to check your weapon at the Daley Center just like all the Police Officers do...

2/12/2007 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retired PO, Officers can not even carry their weapons into the Daley center if they are headin up stairs. PO's can have their weapons on the lower level for minor traffic offense but if you are heading up to one of the courts above the lower level you have to check your gun in. I would call the police room first with your request to see if you can check in your gun as a retied PO, but make sure that in goes into a single lock box and you keep the key.

To the Jackass stating you can not have your gun if you are drinking, you are a moron. Read the Order and the Rules and Regulations. It is SUGGESTED that you do not have your weapon if you are drinking, it does not say that you CAN NOT have it.

You are the police 24 hours a day and are required by law to act if you see a crime. That does not mean you have to jump in there but you must act in some capacity. Why would you ever want to be in a situation when you are unarmed against some one who is?

Yes there is a rule about being intoxicated in public. But if anyone was every fired for this rule, and I would say there has not been, it has nothing to do with you also having a weapon.

Always have the weapon so that if you need to use it you have the ability to use it. This does not mean that you will always use it. Be awar of the situation and know when to use the gun and when not to and take in all the information you can about the occurance

2/12/2007 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cannot be armed if you have been drinking. Dept. General orders prohibit this.. Get drunk while packing, lose your job!

In 018 foot post it's required that you drink while on duty.

2/12/2007 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drinking and guns don't mix. Only buffoons do such acts. We all have heard of drunken off-duty cops and misuse of firearms.

2/13/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Anyone that knows Mrs. Ptak knows that she has high standards and ethics. She would never lie about something like this. She was just as much a victim as was her husband. People that come up with such false accusations should have the nerve to say it to ones face!

2/15/2007 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, check the PCAD for the job. They went home right after!! They never called the police from the scene, never told any CTA employees. They left because in their minds it was not that big of a deal. He got his stuff back end of story. He didn't check mugshot photos or check with Mass trans regarding known picks. The sooner he does this the more fresh it was in his mind but he waited until the dicks called several days later, not three weeks. You call up Mrs Ptak. You ask her when the Area talked to her and her husband. If she tells you it took three weeks (she'd be lying) before dicks showed up then leave a reply here. If she tells you that lie, I will personally approach her and tell her to her face she is lying.
John, ask yourself, being that you are the police, how would you handle being the victim of, as Sun-Time Mark Brown called it, a "Classic Pickpocket Scheme"? I don't think you would of went home right after and then lied to the media later. Would you? Then are the Ptaks really 'good' victims? Sounds like they wanted Cline's kid's treatment for being a victim since Ted payed his dues to this City and its department for 37 years. He's the police, he should handle it like the rest of us would not go to the media. The Ptaks acted like he was on the job for 37 days not 37 years.

2/15/2007 01:29:00 PM  

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