June 23, 2011

Chicago Transit Authority enhancing security

On Monday, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool announced plans to double the number of security cameras across the rail system, while also working with police to enhance security for passengers.

Under the plan, Chicago police will deploy teams, called Wolfpacks, as well as plainclothes officers to patrol the system.

By using an accelerated bidding process with pre-certified technology vendors, cameras will be deployed along platforms and in other non-public secure areas in just six months.

“We’re cutting the red tape that has delayed installation of these cameras,” said Claypool. “Using this innovative approach, we will saturate our system with cameras, so that potential criminal activity is recorded no matter where it occurs.”

Images captured from CTA security camera footage have been used by police to solve both CTA-related crimes and crimes that occur in the vicinity of CTA buses and rail stations. So far this year, images captured from CTA security cameras have assisted in the arrest of individuals involved in 13 cases. Last year, the police made 69 arrests with the help of images pulled from CTA cameras.

After reviewing existing security measures, CTA and CPD also developed a plan to redeploy resources to adjust and upgrade coverage. Transit officers who are freed from school assignments for the summer will be assigned to Wolfpack patrols – highly visible teams of uniformed officers that will be deployed across the system based on daily analysis of crime patterns and trends. In addition, more officers will patrol in plainclothes in order to crack down on thefts of phones and other electronic devices.

“By quickly expanding our security camera network to include multiple cameras at all stations, we’ll be better equipped to capture images of offenders and assist the police,” added Chicago Transit Board chairman Terry Peterson. “And by adjusting policing strategies, the public transit unit will provide an even greater deterrent to theft and hooliganism.”

“Collaborative efforts between the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Transit Authority are vital to ensuring public safety across the City’s transit system,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. “Additional security cameras will serve as a critical tool in investigations and strengthen the effects of this partnership,” he added.

Currently, there are nearly 1,500 security cameras installed and operating on rail stations and platforms. The additional 1,500 cameras will ensure comprehensive coverage, capturing many images that would be missed under the current partial deployment.  Each camera provides a live feed to the CTA Control Center and the city’s Office of Emergency Management Communications.

In addition to completing installation at stations, security cameras will also be added to CTA rail cars, although this initiative is still in the early stages. The new 5000 series rail cars will arrive already equipped with multiple cameras. Retrofitting the existing fleet will be a multi-year process but will vastly enhance the agency’s ability to capture images to share with law enforcement.

“It should send a message to would-be criminals that we’ll be watching, and using every tool at our disposal to assist the police,” Claypool said.

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