The fried chicken joint has a camera just inside the front door. The adjacent mobile phone store has two. The deli next door has four. The Queensbridge Houses have 358.
The number of cameras in the nearby subway station: zero. In fact, only 111 or so stations in the 468-station system have cameras focused on public areas.
Let's consider what would happen if a sufficient number of cameras were promptly installed throughout the system, cameras of the type now found throughout America in hundreds of thousands of stores, gasoline stations, bank branches and fast-food restaurants—simple, relatively-inexpensive devices that produce records that can be examined if something happens. What if such cameras were pointed at every platform in the system twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? What if simple cameras were installed at the front of every train, perhaps in the window of the motorman's cabin pointing forward, recording events on the track ahead, including events immediately before a train strikes someone? What if cameras were installed between cars, cameras that could record what happens to passengers who, like Tanya Middleton, try to move from one car to the next?
That's what I think is the real reason there are few functioning cameras in locations where crimes (other than fare-jumping) occur and why I doubt they will ever be installed unless major changes are made in the management of the transit system: thousands of simple surveillance cameras would function as crime witnesses, rendering inoperable the fiction repeated whenever someone is now killed on the subway tracks and there are no witnesses, "The police have no reason to suspect criminality."
Thousands of recording cameras would create an enormous problem for MTA/NYPD management. They know that and they have embraced the simplest solution.
No cameras? No problem!
© 2014 by James Graham