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Cameras survey Chicago’s toughest blocks, but do they reduce crime?

Demian Bulwa 24 September 2007 No Comment

Earl Gardner lounged on the street near his home just west of downtown Chicago, a 24-ounce can of Crazy Stallion beer in his hand.

A mile away, police Officer Al Garbauski slid a computer mouse to maneuver a camera that was perched a block from Gardner. Zooming in tight, Garbauski saw malt liquor meet mouth and sent an officer to arrest Gardner for drinking in public.

“I didn’t appreciate it, not one bit,” the 55-year-old Gardner said the other day. “The liquor store was closed when I got out (of custody).”

It might seem like a steep expenditure of police resources for a small-time arrest, but Chicago authorities say busts like this serve a higher purpose. They let everyone know that police are watching as the city’s 560 anti-crime cameras look in on the toughest street corners, a strategy intended to deter small-time and big-time crime alike.

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