Thursday, October 02, 2014

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MTA to Use Cameras in Fight Against Sex Assaults Underground

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a new plan to fight sexual assaults and lewdness in the city's mass transit system. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

The MTA on Wednesday said it's taking a series of steps to combat sexual attacks in the transit system - this after Public Advocate Letitia James and several groups called on the agency to up its efforts against on train assaults.

"There are a lot of men, women and transgender-identified individuals who experience harassment. All the forms - starting with verbal harassment, to groping, being followed, grabbed, brushed and touched."

"The hard work of these advocates and this office can make significant changes. And it also demonstrates, to their credit, that the MTA is listening," said Public Advocate Letitia James.

And while riders already see cameras on some buses and in subway stations, within several years, they will be able to find them on hundreds of new subway cars on certain lettered lines.

"This is just the next logical step moving forward, in terms of installing cameras on our trains to address this issue but other safety issues, as well," said MTA Spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

While retrofitting older cars with cameras is too pricey and technologically tricky, riders and advocates say the security upgrade is a welcome one.

"A lot of things happen on the train that we don't know about and that we can't see. And it would be better if we had cameras - you can see everything," noted one subway rider.

"We think that's great. A problem with crimes of these nature is often they're very hard to prosecute, hard to convict. So, having cameras in the car to witness these events would be irrefutable evidence," said Cate Contino of the Straphangers Campaign.

A recent study on subway crime found over 3,000 cases of sexual misconduct on subways were reported between 2008 and 2013.

The 4, 5 and 6 lines were named as the worst, with problems most often occurring during the morning rush hours.

Meantime, the MTA is also reviewing with all subway workers how they should handle reports of sexual misconduct and is launching a series of public service announcements.

In addition, future versions of the subway map will identify every NYPD Transit Bureau station in the system allowing straphangers to report, in person, any unwelcome sexual conduct they witnessed while on the train.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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