New York subway trains get security cameras

NEW YORK, NY — Security cameras, which are already ubiquitous on the streets of New York, will soon be installed in the city’s nearly 6,400 subway cars as authorities work to restore riders’ confidence in the safety of the system.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to install two cameras in each railcar in a project expected to take three years, Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday as she announced the effort at a Queens rail yard.

“Do you think Big Brother is watching you on the subway? You are absolutely right,” said Hochul, a Democrat. “That’s our intention – to get the message across that we’re going to have activity monitoring on the Tube trains and that’s going to give people a lot of peace of mind.”

Anticipating potential privacy or civil liberties issues, Hochul said, “If this is a concern for you, the best response is to not commit any crimes on the subway.”

New York’s subway system already has more than 10,000 existing security cameras across its 472 stations that have played a role in solving major crimes, though the system isn’t working perfectly.

Security camera footage was crucial in helping investigators identify a suspect after a man shot 10 people on a subway train in Brooklyn in April, but the MTA system failed to record the footage from cameras on the rig where the suspected shooter escaped from a smoke. full train.

Like most security cameras now found throughout New York City, those installed in subway cars will not be monitored live. But Hochul said they would still be useful as a deterrent because people will know they are being recorded and the footage could be useful to investigators trying to solve crimes.

Even now, police routinely use footage from private cameras mounted on buildings to document a suspect’s movements after a crime – although they often lose track if someone gets on a train.

The MTA received approximately $5.5 million in state and federal funding to purchase and install the cameras. Around 200 cameras will be installed each month, with the project ending in 2025.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s subway system had largely shaken its 1980s reputation as filthy and crime-ridden, though complaints about overcrowding and reliability persisted. But after the pandemic drained the system of runners, many New Yorkers began to feel unsafe underground again.

In an MTA passenger survey released this week, nearly 70% said there were too few police on the subway; just over 50% say they feel safe or very safe in stations and on trains.

Hochul’s Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, attacked her during her campaign for being too soft on crime.

Ridership in the subway system remains down from its pre-pandemic peak, but passengers have returned in greater numbers recently, with some days exceeding more than 70% of volume before COVID-19 hit.

So far this year, the number of reported crimes on public transport in the city is on average slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels.

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Maysoon Khan is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Maysoon Khan on Twitter.

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