Stopping Drug Deals With Video Surveillance

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Nov 20, 2013

The Chicago Police Department cites video surveillance as one of its main reasons for success against street corner drug operations. In this note, we share details from CPD Commander Elias Voulgaris who spoke at Secured Cities on how it helped.

The Problem

When the Vice Lords started selling drugs in open air markets, Chicago police started going after lower level dealers, but it was not having the impact they wanted. Cases were getting too easily thrown out because of the small amounts of drugs and cash the dealers carried. Plus, it was hard to convince a jury of the extent of the problem using only officer's written observations, the Commander said.  

The Solution

From 2004-2005, the police launched Operation Border Patrol [link no longer available], the first investigation to rely heavily on video surveillance to document Chicago's gang-controlled open air drug markets. The police used video to record interactions between dealers and customers, which included undercover officers. Their logic: If they could get the volume of transactions on video, then they could better document the scope of the problem.

The Value of the Cameras

The cameras proved valuable for documenting a pattern of ongoing criminal activity, but also made jury cases easier to prosecute, he said. The value of having cameras that could get clear shots of gang signs and the colors people were wearing was high because being able to point out these details was good for the “more suburban” jurors to see on tape, said Commander Voulgaris.

In some instances, police showed video to low level dealers to get information on other people in the video or press a suspect into confessing.

Cameras Used

The operation used the police "blue-light" cameras, covert streetlight cameras and covert body worn cameras. The city has around 600 blue-light cameras [link no longer available] across Chicago. The street light cameras were mobile PTZ cameras that were hidden in fake electrical boxes and mounted to telephone poles for the police by the electric company. They were often set up overnight the capability to zoom in to a suspects hands from across the street.

Commander Voulgaris did not say what brand of cameras they were using for any of the operations, but an attendee at the show who said he has installed several of the covert cameras for the city said they used Axis cameras (confirmed in this Wall Street Journal story) with custom covert boxes by Anixter

The Chicago Police still do narcotics operations leveraging the three types of videos based the success of Operation Border Patrol. In fact, they liked it so much they started making "Best of" videos with the footage from investigations: 

Comments (0) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop [link no longer available] has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every...
Police Department Surveillance Manager Interview on Feb 28, 2019
Former Memphis PD Surveillance Manager, Lt. Joseph Patty retired months ago, but kept busy during his decades on the force, working to build up...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren [link no longer available] worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken)...
Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
New GDPR Guidelines for Video Surveillance Examined on Jul 18, 2019
The highest-level EU data protection authority has issued a new series of provisional video surveillance guidelines. While GDPR has been in...
First GDPR Facial Recognition Fine For Sweden School on Aug 22, 2019
A school in Sweden has been fined $20,000 for using facial recognition to keep attendance in what is Sweden's first GDPR fine. Notably, the fine is...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
France Declares School Facial Recognition Illegal Due to GDPR on Oct 31, 2019
France is the latest European country to effectively prohibit facial recognition as a school access control solution, even with the consent of...

Most Recent Industry Reports

IronYun AI Analytics Tested on Feb 17, 2020
Taiwan startup IronYun has raised tens of millions for its "mission to be the leading Artificial Intelligence, big data video software as a service...
Access Control ADA and Disability Laws Tutorial on Feb 17, 2020
Safe access control is paramount, especially for those with disabilities. Most countries have codes to mandate safe building access for those...
ISC West 2020 Removes China Pavilion, No Plans To Cancel Or Postpone on Feb 17, 2020
ISC West plans to go on next month, amidst concerns over coronavirus. However, the Asia / China Pavilion has been removed, show organizers...
Hanwha Wisenet X Plus PTRZ Tested on Feb 14, 2020
Hanwha has released their PTRZ camera, the Wisenet X Plus XNV-6081Z, claiming the "modular design allows for easy installation". We bought and...
IPVM Conference 2020 on Feb 13, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce our 2020 conference. This is the first and only industry event that will be 100% sponsor-free. Like IPVM online, the...
Bosch Dropping Dahua on Feb 13, 2020
Bosch has confirmed to IPVM that it is in the process of dropping Dahua, over the next year, as both IP camera contract manufacturer and recorder...
BluB0X Alleges Lenel, S2, Software House Are Dinosaurs on Feb 13, 2020
BluB0X is running an ad campaign labeling Lenel, S2, Software House, Honeywell, AMAG and more as dinosaurs: In a follow-up email to IPVM,...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select areas of the UK capital, sparking significant controversy. IPVM...
Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in designing video surveillance systems. Though 'convergence' was a big...