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MBTA installs 50 cameras in hopes of curbing crime

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has installed 50 new security cameras at the JFK/ UMass red line station in an effort to reduce crime in the surrounding area. Several robberies and a daytime sexual assault were reported in the area, according to the MBTA.

The project began in early November after community members asked for increased security in light of the crime reports.  Officials from the MBTA announced in December that they would be adding more cameras.

Joseph O’Conner, Superintendent-in-chief of the MBTA Transit Police Department said the police force is trying multiple approaches to reduce crime.

“The cameras are just one component of our strategy to reduce crime and the fear of crime at the JFK/UMass station,” he said.

Within the month of January there were 30 reported incidents of crime, ranging from assault to vandalism, according to the crime statistics released by the MBTA Transit Police.

The station lies near UMass Boston, Boston College High School and the Boston Globe headquarters.

Joe Pesaturo, spokesperson for the MBTA said the camera installation was completed ahead of schedule.

“The cameras are now active,” he said in an email. “And they will store 24 hour footage for approximately 30 days.”

The funding for the cameras came from a grant provided by the Massachusetts Department of Homeland Security, Pesaturo said.

“$550,000 in funds were provided for the installation,” he said.

While the cameras will provide increased security, some wonder if this additional surveillance violates certain privacy rights. The Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has long been weary of MBTA police conduct.

“The Constitution protects everyone from unreasonable unwanted police intrusion,” the ACLU said in a statement. “While safety on the T is important, the MBTA policy will not make us more safe — just less free.”

Despite the possible privacy issue, T riders were pleased with the increase in security.

Elizabeth Lee, 38, an Allston resident, said she rides the T almost every day.

“Sometimes when I have to ride the T at late hours it feels a little sketchy- especially at the more open platforms,” she said. “So I have no problem with them putting in more cameras if that is going to make me safer.”

Other stations expected to receive additional cameras are Charles/MGH, Harvard Station, Kendall Square, and Porter Square according to MBTA officials.  The cameras are expected in late spring.

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