New York City police will extend surveillance into major subway stations at Times Square, Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal with 500 video cameras, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The cameras, installed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subways, will become part of a surveillance system covering lower and midtown Manhattan at a maximum cost of $200 million from federal Homeland Security and city funds, Bloomberg said. The city already scans 1,159 public and private cameras, and plans to integrate about 3,000 image- capturing devices.
“As multiple attacks worldwide show, terrorists target mass transit systems for maximum casualties,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who accompanied the mayor at a news conference in a downtown Manhattan video-monitoring center. “Having access to these MTA cameras gives us another crucial tool with which to protect New York’s transit system.”
When finished in 2013, the areas between 30th and 60th streets and Manhattan below Canal Street, which are the city’s centers of finance, commerce, government and transportation, will be watched over by a network of cameras, license-plate readers and radiation detection sensors. They will feed data into a lower Manhattan coordination center, Kelly said.
The city’s network can accept feeds from as many as 10,000 cameras, the mayor said.
“We will take whatever steps necessary, regardless of cost in federal or city funds, to protect New York from terrorists,” Bloomberg said during the news conference.
’No Particular Safeguards’
Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the city embarked on the increase in surveillance cameras “without any particular safeguards for citizens’ privacy and without any real evidence that video surveillance will prevent terrorism.”
Surveillance footage is destroyed after 30 days unless impounded for investigation out of privacy concerns, Kelly said during the news conference.
Video analysis software will permit police to isolate the color of clothes a suspect may have worn, or to monitor “potentially suspicious objects or activities,” the mayor’s office said in a news release.
The monitors may be programmed to spot unattended parcels, movement in restricted areas and loitering, with several cameras able to track a moving person or object simultaneously, Kelly said.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
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