A new surveillance guide by ex-NYPD officer Eddie Cruz offers lessons from law enforcement but focuses on the practical concerns of private-sector operators.
by Steve Koenig
Eddie Cruz, retired NYPD undercover operative, asked me to review his new book, Surveillance: A Concept of the Art. First of all, Brooklyn-born NYPD Detective Eddie Cruz and I come from opposite ends of the universe. I am a Nebraska farm boy turned private-sector surveillance operative.
Like many, I gained my surveillance skills working alone, surveilling insurance claimants in a wide range of geographical venues. Those of us on the civil side are a little defensive about our abilities as compared to our counterparts who work in tactical-team environments with the best equipment and resources. So I began reading his book with what I admit was a little chip on my shoulder. But by the time I finished the introduction, I knew me and Eddie Cruz were simpatico on the subject of surveillance and our profession in general.
Eddie retired from NYPD but not from the streets. He now surveils insurance claimants, documenting with video their daily activities in the New York metropolitan area, and he writes from the POV of the covert operative who transitioned to the private sector with serious surveillance experience. He addresses the challenges of conducting (solo) private-sector surveillance operations sans the “authority and resources” of (team) law enforcement.
Eddie also includes stories from his days on those mean streets with NYPD specialized units. He writes with humility and respect for both his law enforcement and his private sector colleagues, even admitting that you don’t necessarily need to have his background to become a successful surveillance operative.
Surveillance: A Concept of the Art covers a host of topics, including case preparation; fixed, foot and mobile surveillance; equipment usage; and report writing. Eddie provides the reader with “practical tools and strategies,” such as how to harden yourself to those paranoid feelings—that your subject knows that they are being surveilled—and how to balance that paranoia with appropriate aggressiveness. He also writes about getting burned, doing spot checks, securing a good observation point, and memorizing your subject’s license plate number. At the end of each chapter, he includes “Key Points” for the novice surveillance operative to remember and internalize and the veteran operative to review.
Eddie closes his book with chapters that gently instruct and advise future surveillance operatives and their employers. He does not haughtily lecture the reader but provides honest and hard-bitten advice—again, with humility and respect.
Trust me, there are no other books that are as concise, yet have a real understanding and appreciation for the art of surveillance. Eddie is a well-qualified instructor, and like any good instructor, he is encouraging and positive.
In one section, Eddie recalls the scene from the movie Zero Dark Thirty when the surveillance team finally tracks down and identifies Osama Bin Laden’s courier. The courier identified, they then break off their surveillance so as not to jeopardize their operation. Only surveillance nerds can truly appreciate that scene and those that followed, when the team then carefully tracks the courier to Osama Bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
I appreciate what Eddie has brought to my profession with his book, Surveillance: A Concept of the Art, and I think you will, too.
About the author:
Steve Koenig is a private investigator in central Nebraska. He specializes in covert surveillance and critical interviewing.