- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey is hoping to put the city under camera surveillance, possibly to save lives, end all wrongdoing and make "blooper" videos.
There you are, on film, aboard a flying manhole cover, with your tray table and seat cushion in their upright and fastened positions.
Not too long ago, the first word out of your mouth would have been "Help." The first word now is "Cheese."
As Chief Ramsey sees it, and one day he may see it all; if one camera is good, two are better, and a zillion of them are nirvana.
Welcome to the nation's capital.
We dare you to enter.
We film, we ticket, we fingerprint.
Have a nice day.
Santa Claus knows when you have been good or bad. Chief Ramsey is planning to know that, too, plus everything you always wanted to know about whatever, but were afraid to ask.
Sorry to hear you broke up with your significant other. Go to Chief Ramsey. He can tell you where you went wrong.
You say you're planning a surprise birthday party? Guess what it's not a surprise. Chief Ramsey's gift already is in the mail.
You're meeting friends for dinner and one of them is late. Call Chief Ramsey. He can tell you what is causing the delay.
It is said that football coaches study a lot of film. That goes triple for Chief Ramsey. Is he having a pleasant day? Don't ask. He'll have to break down the film before answering.
Understandably, the cameras raise a number of unsettling concerns, starting with the obvious. You won't be able to clean your nasal passages when you think no one is looking, because with cameras all around, someone is bound to be looking, probably snickering, saying, "Look at that fool."
Incidentally, can someone be fined for performing a hygienic duty in public?
So far, Chief Ramsey has resisted the argument to install cameras in the bedrooms of city residents, no doubt as a professional courtesy to hard-core filmmakers.
Otherwise, all soft-core voyeurs please apply to the Metropolitan Police Department.
You like to watch?
You're hired.
You know what the camera monitors at the command center say: Take it off. Take it all off.
They like to watch, the city likes to write tickets, and Mike Tyson, who is trying to come to town, likes to work the legal system. Is this the jackpot, or what?
Here's Tyson. There's trouble.
Hide the women and children. The ferrets, too.
Tyson just might trash a restaurant, or beat up a motorist.
Chief Ramsey just might throw the camera as well as the book at Tyson.
To his credit, Chief Ramsey makes himself available to citizens during his "Ask the Chief" call-in program on WTOP radio.
So ask:
What about a bad hair day caught on camera, chief? Does the victim of a bad hair day receive a warning from the city? Do you promise not to tell the person's friends?
Another concern, chief: What if you are walking along, munching on a hamburger, when a strong gust of wind blows the wrapper from your hand and it winds up in the middle of a busy street? Should you accept the litter fine, or should you sprint out into the street to retrieve the wrapper? If you retrieve the wrapper, are you then guilty of jaywalking? If, in all this, you are hit by a vehicle, can you guarantee the 911 operator will pick up the phone?
A legal question: If you are planning to mug someone, is it better to point a finger behind the pocket of your jacket, as if you are packing heat or, just to be certain, is it better to have the real thing?
An animal question: What is the best day of the week to visit the two rent-a-pandas? Which souvenir do you recommend, chief, the panda key chain or panda mug?
A quality-of-life issue: What if a pothole has messed up your vehicle's front-end alignment and you can't find a parking space? Are you allowed to go five to 10 mph over the speed limit?
One last item: Do your cameras do glamour shots upon request, assuming the person is willing to pay for the service?
Just asking, chief.

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