SUPER SPOOK SCHOOL - SURVEILLANCE

One of the more interesting classes was on surveillance.
This covered many, many hours of instruction in the
classroom and in the field.  We even went to downtown
Baltimore just to practice surveillance.  Professional
actors were employed full-time by the school and each of
them played various roles, such as, captured spies, sources,
suspected spies, and surveillance subjects.  Myself and two
other students were assigned to follow one of the actors
that were employees of the school.  Our subject was a short,
old, fat man.  I thought to myself, “Boy, we have it made.”
Not so, that old fellow had been doing this for many years
and he was an expert at counter-surveillance and the streets
of downtown Baltimore.  On the other hand we were new at
this job and had never even been to downtown Baltimore.  We
were the ones that were in trouble.

The cadre provided us with a photo of our subject and his
habits and told us where and when we could expect to find
him at a certain intersection in downtown Baltimore.  So
that’s where our surveillance began.  We spotted our target
easily and off we went.  He made a couple of turns, stopped
at several glass front stores to check us out in the
reflection, doubled back once or twice, and went through a
couple of traffic lights.  It didn’t take him long at all to
spot us - about half a damn block.

We took turns being the closest one to our subject so
hopefully he wouldn’t spot us.  The subject is referred to
as the “rabbit” and we were the "hounds."  Eventually our
rabbit entered a building and went directly into an elevator
that was almost full.  At the time, I happened to be the
nearest hound to our rabbit so I shoved my way into the
crowded elevator right behind him.  I thought, “This little
son of a bitch isn’t getting away from me.”  Our rabbit
situated himself by the control panel and punched one of the
floor buttons and asked me, “What floor buddy?”  I responded
as taught.  Without looking at my rabbit, I said, “Top floor
thank you.”  Right then, I knew that he had spotted me.  He
punched the button, but just as the doors began to close, he
said, “Oh, I forgot something, excuse me,” and squeezed out
between the doors.  Well, I shoved through the people,
grabbed the doors and exited right behind him, saying,
“Damned if I didn’t forget something too.”  I thought, “He
isn’t leaving me on that elevator never to see my
surveillance team again.”

Our rabbit finally entered a Boy Scouts of America office
and he never came back out.  [We learned later that he was
friends with the office personnel.]  When I went into the
office and asked about enrolling my children in the scouts,
our rabbit was no where in sight.  Obviously, he had exited
by the back door.  That fat old man was long gone.  We
quickly spread out and stationed ourselves on three corners
of that block, I stood on the corner across the street from
the BSA office.  From that corner I could see each of my
other two men and each of them could see me,but not our
third team member.  We had all four sides of that block
covered, but our fat old rabbit had finally lost us.  We
kept watching and sure enough, our rabbit popped out again
from a side street.  [After confirming that he had lost us,
he had returned so we could pick him up again.]  Off he went
again with us racing along to catch up to him.  Naturally
the two of us that were the farthest from where he was
spotted had to run through the crowd like a maniac to catch
up.

When we returned to class the next day, the rabbit debriefed
and graded our surveillance team. Our team grade was about
average.  Nobody did great, every team was just passable.
Thank God they didn’t require us to practice vehicle
surveillance, we probably would have killed somebody.

Don "Val"  Valentine

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