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Expanded Chicago Transit surveillance paying off

Posted on October 29, 2012

The Chicago Transit Authority’s expanded camera network, completed late last year, has proven successful in detecting crime patterns and serial offenders in both reported and unreported crimes, and has led to the apprehension of offenders through real-time, remote policing missions, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool said.

As part of the CTA’s continued efforts to improve system safety and security, Claypool showcased the agency’s new, modernized video surveillance room and outlined additional steps recently taken to strengthen the CTA’s security program.

These new initiatives will allow for improved video surveillance, quicker response and greater efficiency of resources among those policing the transit system and working to solve crimes.

“Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we have greatly expanded not only our camera network, but also our relationship with the Chicago Police Department, which is devoting more officers to coordinate with the CTA and help mine evidence and intelligence provided by our camera network,” Claypool said.

Since January 1, CTA video cameras have assisted in the arrest of 134 individuals involved in crimes either on or off the CTA system, most involving robberies or thefts. In one recent example, Chicago police broke up a ring of pickpockets after capturing video of incidents on the Red Line. Using video captured during those incidents, CTA worked with police to identify the crime patterns and set up a video stakeout. During that effort, an offender committed a pickpocket crime and CTA immediately notified police, who made an arrest on site.

Occupying a former library space at CTA headquarters, the new video surveillance room is approximately 2,800 square feet and is more than 12 times larger than the previous video room. Existing resources, including surplus furniture, computers and display monitors were used in creating the new room, resulting in no added costs to the CTA.

Security staff and police detectives who work with the CTA on a regular basis have access to 20 terminals with 35 displays to view video from rail stations, rail cars and buses. In addition, there are seven dedicated workspaces for CTA investigators and security specialists; a quad-screen video panel for large-scale or multi-viewing purposes; and a team conference room.

Since June 2011, the number of cameras on CTA’s rail system more than doubled with the installation of 1,800 new cameras at rail stations—bringing the total to over 3,600. The agency’s camera network continues to expand with the addition of the 5000 series rail cars, each equipped with seven security cameras. Plans to retrofit older rail cars with security cameras will begin in the near future.

The cameras, combined with other CTA crime-fighting strategies, are having a positive impact on solving crimes that are committed on CTA property. Robberies declined 25% between January 2012 and September 2012 compared with the same period a year ago. Assault and battery incidents are down 3% and 20%, respectively, for the same period. And overall, violent crimes are down 23% for that period.

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