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MBTA will add cops, cameras, to stations

(The following article by Joe Dwinell was posted on the Boston Herald website on March 22.)

BOSTON -- Banks of new surveillance cameras are being added to MBTA stations across the city as the transit authority tries to put the T on a safer track.

Another 34 new T cops are also being added along with $4 million in cameras, paid for primarily from Homeland Security grants.

In the wake of a Boston Herald report that highlighted public transit crime, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said, “Crime is down . . . and we’ll continue to do everything to make it even safer.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has called for a crackdown on crime on the T.

Last year, 972 major crimes - assaults, rapes, robberies, car thefts and larcenies - were reported to MBTA police, according to T statistics reviewed by the Herald. The figures show a slight improvement over the previous year.

Pesaturo said a total of 700 cameras will be up and running by the end of the year. The new surveillance cameras will be trained right on the turnstyles.

“We’ve solved several crimes with those cameras,” Pesaturo said.

Of Herald readers responding to an online poll on T safety, 43 percent said the T is safe most of the time, but 31 percent said they fear riding alone at night.

“I only go on the T during the day,” said T rider George McWhinnie of Jamaica Plain, who added he’s worried more about those who abuse the new electronic fare system.

“I watch people go through for nothing and it’s annoying,” said McWhinnie. “An alarm will sound and nobody pays attention.”

Other Herald readers responding on Bostonherald.com wrote that marauding teens terrify them.

“It is not al-Qaeda or Islamic terrorists that we are afraid of, it is the gangs,” wrote one reader who calls himself an IT specialist and partner in a financial firm who commutes into the city.

“We enjoy doing business in Boston,” he added, “but not at the costs of our personal safety.”

A rider at Ruggles Station in Roxbury wrote a man in “short shorts” exposed himself on the T for all to see a month ago.

“When he sat down across across from me, let’s say he hung all out and about,” said the woman, who called for a stronger T police presence on the Orange Line.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

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