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Massive video surveillance in Chicago opens debate on rights.

Most law enforcement experts will tell you nothing beats having cops on the beat when it comes to fighting crime. Police officers can’t be everywhere. Now, they don’t have to be – thanks to some high-tech help.

Every minute a car is stolen. Every day across the country 44 people are murdered and nearly 3,800 are victims of violent crimes. While crime usually rises during a recession, that’s not the case now. Nationwide, violent crimes are down 5.5 percent. Crimes like murder declined 7.2 percent, robbery 8.1 percent, motor vehicle theft down 17.2 percent.

Law enforcement officials say the increased use of high-tech tools to fight crime is a big reason why.

From the operations center of the Office of Emergency Communications in Chicago “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty reports officials keep watch over the 232 square mile urban area with a massive network of cameras, creating a virtual eye in the sky. Officials refuse to give actual figures, but some estimate the number of publicly and privately owned cameras targeting Chicago to be around 15,000.

Nick Benton, a Chicago paramedic assigned to the operation center, said they can “Zoom in up to 32 times optically, and up to 184 times digitally.”

“We can get license plates. I’m not going to pull up a specific license plate,” he added. “But yes, you can actually zoom in and very clearly see their license plate.”

City officials were keeping a close eye on crowds gathering for a Tea Party protest.

Can you pick out faces of those at the demonstration?