CTA adding security cameras, patrols

June 20, 2011 8:11:55 PM PDT
The Chicago Transit Authority is doubling its number of security cameras and working with police to start special plainclothes patrols.

CTA president Forrest Claypool announced the increased security efforts Monday. The CTA will use an accelerated bidding process to hire vendors to install all-angle cameras along rail platforms and other unsecure areas over the next six months.

The CTA's 1,500 cameras will increase to 3,000. So far in 2011 CTA security camera images have led to arrests in 13 cases. Last year it was 69 arrests.

Claypool says the goal is to "saturate" cameras to record criminal activity. He says cameras would have helped in the Red Line incident where a woman died when she was pushed down the stairs by a robber who is still at large.

"We will saturate the system with cameras so the potential criminal activity is recorded no matter where it occurs," said Claypool. "Once these cameras are in place, we have a 99 percent probability of capturing any such incident such as that one, that unfortunate incident at the Fullerton station."

The cameras are being paid for with $16 million of federal Homeland Security grants.

The CTA and Chicago police are calling new highly visible uniformed officer patrols "Wolfpacks." More plainclothes officers will also be out to crack down on phone and electronic device thefts.

Riders say a bigger police presence is the real deterrent.

"If they have the intention to steal, they're going to do it anyway. With cameras, they still have the option of getting away but with physical presence, if they see that more, I think it will be more of a deterrent," said Randy Cummings, CTA rider. "I always appreciate the effort if they are trying to make it safer."

"I could only imagine it would help if they doubled it up," said Tanner Cheesebro, CTA rider.

"Cameras might help catch, but I doubt it will help deter anybody," said Toni Husbands, CTA rider."

Installing multiple cameras at every CTA rail stations was always the plan, however, not in such a quick time frame.

Claypool says the elimination of red tape is making it possible to double the amount of security cameras by the end of the year.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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