No video after subway stabbing exposes MTA's camera issues

March 31, 2010 5:33:12 AM PDT
The search for a killer who stabbed two young men on a subway is hitting an investgative roadblock. The biggest and most alarming issue is that the Christoper Street station, where the murders happened, is not equipped with surveillance cameras.

That problem is now highlighting an even greater security issue.

Given everything that's happened lately, including the deadly subway bombings in Moscow, security is extra tight on the subways.

There seems to be a camera at every corner, and TV monitors often provide a sense of security.

But at the Christopher Street station, there is not a camera in sight. Any surveillance might have helped police catch the killer of two men early Sunday morning.

Intead, there's just old-fashioned flyers asking for information. Riders were stunned there aren't cameras already there.

"I'm a person who comes down here every day, and I leave here at midnight," rider Greg McGirt said. "I want to know at least somebody sees me, if something happens to me, somebody's able to see it."

The MTA is supposed to have 4,313 cameras up and running by now. But officialy, there's only 2,270.

Part of the problem is, believe it or not, some stations aren't earmarked for cameras yet. Others aren't hooked up. And another snag is an ongoing lawsuit with Lockheed Martin over a high-tech sytem that just doesn't work.

"A lot of those cameras don't work, and I'm sure some day maybe we're going to get badly hurt because of it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The mayor is ticked at the MTA and Albany for not coming up with more security money.

The MTA defended itself in statement, saying "(Fare control cameras) are under construction and set to become active this June. An additional program to monitor key locations by video is moving toward completion, with 1,133 more (coming)."

Still, eight and a half years after 9/11, and with terrorism ever-present, you'd think the subway would be the first place with the most security.

"People across the city of New York should be told by the MTA why the cameras aren't working, when are they going to work and when are we going to have a system that's secure," City Council transportation chairman James Vacca said.

MTA officials say safety and security of riders is the top priority. Overall, crime is down in the subways, even as ridership increases.