MTA cameras allow NYPD to do subway surveillance
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About 500 subway cameras have been activated in Times Square, Penn Station and Grand Central Station as part of an effort to thwart terrorist acts and street crimes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.
The cameras belong to the MTA but have now been linked to the NYPD’s Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, which allows the police to keep an eye on platforms, turnstiles, tracks and entrances. The police keep the video active for one month.
“If we’re looking for a person in a red jacket, we can pull up all the red jacket films in the past 30 days,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at a news conference, adding that the cameras have the ability to zoom in and switch angles.
amNewYork first reported in April that while the MTA has more than 4,300 cameras in the transit system, about half were not working. Since then the agency has repaired 900 cameras and now has gotten these additional 500 working through its partnership with the NYPD.
The city, meanwhile, has 1,159 public and private surveillance cameras in midtown and Lower Manhattan, and ultimately plans to have 3,000 at a cost of about $200 million to be funded through federal grants.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the increased monitoring without public input worries her group, and they have filed lawsuits against the NYPD and the Department of Homeland Security to gain more information.
“Of course it’s critically important to protect New Yorkers from terrorism, but there’s no evidence that security cameras — especially in an era of tight law enforcement resources — are the way to go,” she said.