CTA: Expanded surveillance program results in more arrests

October 26, 2012

Alma Bahman

The Chicago Transit Authority's top official announced its expanded camera network successfully helps deter crimes and leads to more arrests at rail stations.

Since June 2011, CTA installed more than 1,800 security cameras, equipping all 145 rail stations with multiple high-definition cameras that provide live feeds to CTA and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC).

In a press release, CTA President Forrest Claypool said the camera project, completed late 2011, detects crime patterns and serial offenders in both reported and unreported crimes. It also has led to arrests through real-time, remote policing missions, specifically 134 since the beginning of 2012. Most of the crimes were robberies or thefts.

Since hiring former Chicago Police Commander and Deputy Chief of Patrol James Keatingas head of the security division, the department has doubled in size and now follows a structure similar to that of the CPD.

“I'd like to thank CTA for their commitment to public safety and unparalleled partnership with the Chicago Police Department,” Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a press release. “Improved access to CTA’s expanded camera network and the restructuring of CTA’s security department will create a more cohesive work environment, resulting in more efficient police investigations and safer environments for commuters.”

With the help of Chicago police and CTA security, robberies dropped 25 percent between January 2012 and September 2012 compared with 2011. Assaults declined 3 percent and battery incidents fell 23 percent for that time period. Overall, violent crimes are down 23 percent for that period. An additional 50 full-time police officers now patrol the bus and rail systems.

“As our camera network continues to expand, we have created a new, modern video surveillance room with some of the latest monitoring technology available,” Claypool said, “These new tools will help improve the efficiency and capabilities of our staff and the CPD detectives who work closely with the CTA Security Department.”

The new video surveillance room at CTA headquarters fills about 2,800 square feet of what used to be library space. It's 12 times larger than the previous video room with 20 terminals and 35 displays for viewing video from stations, rail cars and buses. CTA security, as well as CPD detectives, have access to a quad-screen video panel, plus a conference room and dedicated workspaces for investigators and security specialists.

The new 5000 series rail cars have seven security cameras and CTA plans to retrofit older models in the near future.