Chicago, IL – For the third time in as many days, Chicago Police Department forensic analyst Ted Hatcher confessed to being unable to magically extract high definition pictures from damaged, out-of-focus, and low resolution images. Hatcher’s failure was met with disbelief and disappointment by police detectives and crime scene investigators standing around him in his unreasonably dark forensics lab.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not given a grainy surveillance video, or a Google satellite image, or a picture from an old newspaper and asked to produce a clear crisp image to help them solve some crime or something,” said Hatcher, who has been working for the Chicago Police Department for 12 years.
Hatcher is continually amazed at what the precinct investigators think he can do with 300-line resolution surveillance video.
“No amount of zooming and filtering-out visual noise, or fractal-based image cleansing –whatever that means– will ‘clean that picture up'”, Hatcher said while motioning finger quotes in the air. “Oh, and I can’t get heat images off of it either. . . it’s pulled from a crappy gas station security camera, for chrissakes.”
Hatcher’s working relationship with the department was further strained when Chicago Police Detective, Randall Thompson handed him a picture of a couple of kids taken from their mother’s cell phone. Thompson claimed the the digital picture caught a glimpse of a mugging going on across the street in the background and he wanted Hatcher to pull the evidence he needed to make an arrest that afternoon.
“What do you want me to do with this?” Hatcher asked, raising his arms in exasperation. “I can’t change the laws of optics!”
Detective Thompson looked confused and demanded that Hatcher “do that thing you do with the keyboard…tappity tap.”
“You know, every time the screen refreshes, it gets clearer,” Thompson said. “Can’t you, like isolate the perp’s face reflecting off that soda vending machine behind them?”
Hatcher rolled his eyes and sighed, keyed the plus sign on his keyboard a half dozen of times, hit the print button, and handed Thompson a picture comprised of eight large pixels, of varying shades of grey, that sort-of looked like a head.