New York subway attack: Unclear why station cameras failed
NEW YORK - Seven months ago, the MTA announced that all of New York City's 472 subway stations now included security cameras.
At the time, MTA Chief Safety Officer Pat Warren told the New York Post, "If you are a criminal, and we know where a crime took place, we will be able to go to those recordings, find you, and deliver that image to the police so they can investigate."
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Except on Tuesday, when the camera or cameras inside the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, did none of those things when a gunman opened fire and shot 10 people.
Why not? That's murky.
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber told WCBS Radio that it "may have been a server problem or internet connection problem." In an appearance on cable news, he said the MTA did, however, have video of the suspect entering the subway system at a different station Tuesday morning. Lieber also touted the sheer size of their surveillance program, telling MSNBC that the subway system has more than 10,000 cameras.
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso told FOX 5 NY that the camera failure is "frustrating."
"It's hard to sit here and see all these resources we give to keep our people safe, and all this talk about 'We don't have enough resources.' We have them," Reynoso said. "These cameras are supposed to be no more than two years old. They're supposed to work. It could have made the difference between us catching this guy in one hour and now having to wait two days before we even know who the person was."
Reynoso added that more social resources for communities suffering from gun violence will help keep them safe — not more cops and cameras.
"This is a perfect example of even when we do give resources for these type of things they end up not working," he said.
At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, the NYPD said that responsibility for the cameras lies with the MTA.
"The camera systems in the subway system are not NYPD cameras. They're owned and maintained by the MTA," Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said. "We have access to them. We do regularly look and see which cameras are working, which ones are not. But the responsibility for those cameras belongs to the MTA."
MTA board member Andrew Albert said the system's cameras have been responsible for catching "any number" of perpetrators.
"You may recall the Central Park rapist was caught by one of our cameras," Albert said. "So they're very functional. But we have to find out why these weren't working."
He said he knows the MTA checks the cameras.
"But how often is the key," Albert said.
FOX 5 NY has asked the MTA press office that very question, among others — including how many cameras were in that station and what the exact problem was? But the agency has not yet provided clarity.