Security Camera Network
Customer safety and security is CTA’s No. 1 priority.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a number of steps have been taken to improve efforts in tackling crimes committed across our bus and rail systems. These initiatives have included expanding police patrols across the system; increased undercover operations targeting pick-pocket theft rings, vandalism and other crimes; and the huge expansion of our video surveillance network to more than 23,000 cameras – making it one of the most comprehensive bus and rail camera network among U.S transit agencies.
Cameras aiding in the fight against crime
Our camera network has quickly become an invaluable tool for police and their investigations into crimes committed either on or near CTA properties. The cameras have been successfully used in detecting crime patterns and serial offenders involved in both reported and unreported crimes, and have led to the apprehension of offenders through real-time, remote policing missions.
So far, in the first half of 2014, images pulled from bus and rail system cameras have aided police in the identification, investigation and apprehension of at least 128 individuals involved in at least 116 reported cases of crime that occurred either on or near CTA properties.
Recent examples of how CTA’s camera network is aiding police in the fight against crime include:
- Tackling the Costly Crime of Vandalism. Nearly $1 million was spent in 2013, cleaning and repairing damage to CTA vehicles and properties from acts of graffiti and vandalism. Within the first three months of 2014, following several police surveillance missions and using images pulled from station cameras and the newly installed rail car cameras, police were able to make 60 arrests for graffiti-related crimes on CTA properties. These 60 arrests are the equivalent of all CTA vandalism arrests made in 2013.
- Assist in Wrigleyville Sexual Assault Offender: In April 2014, CTA cameras assisted police in their investigation into a sexual assault that occurred in an alleyway in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Cameras installed at the Addison Red Line station were able to capture images of the offender fleeing the from the crime scene. These images, along with footage from nearby cameras and other evidence collected, aided the police in the quick apprehension of the offender, who was arrested and held without bail.
- Chicago’s First Facial Recognition Arrest and Conviction: In June 2014, a judge sentenced Pierre Martin to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of two armed robberies committed on the CTA’s Pink Line in January and February the previous year. Martin is the first person in Chicago to be identified, arrested and convicted of a crime using facial recognition technology. Using images pulled from cameras installed in CTA’s 5000-Series rail cars and rail stations, the Chicago Police Department’s Facial Recognition Section used a program to compare the images against their collection of 4.5 million criminal booking photos. Martin’s mug shot ranked No. 1 on the list of potential matches. This match by the facial recognition technology, along with several positive identifications from witnesses via photo line-ups, led police to the arrest of Martin, who soon confessed to the crimes.
What we've done
Rail Car and System Camera Expansion
In May 2014, we announced the completion of a $13.9 million project to retrofit the majority of our rail fleet – more than 840 rail cars – with more than 3,300 360-degree high definition cameras. These state-of-the-art cameras can record and store high-resolution images from all angles, increasing the ability for police to identify criminal suspects.
The remaining rail cars not retrofitted with cameras are in the process of being replaced with our newest generation of rail cars – the 5000-Series, which come equipped with multiple surveillance cameras.
The rail car cameras are the latest addition to our already extensive rail system camera network, which more than doubled in size following an aggressive plan announced in June 2011, to install 1,800+ cameras in rail stations and platform in less than six months. All 145 CTA rail stations are now fully equipped with multiple, high definition cameras, which can provide a live-feed to the CTA Control Center and the Office of Emergency Management (OEMC).
In addition, our entire bus fleet has been cameras equipped since 2003, with up to 12 cameras on each vehicle depending on model.
Video Surveillance Room
Collectively, there are more than 23,000 cameras across the CTA. To maximize the effectiveness of this network and ensure police have quick and easy access to footage and live camera feeds, we created a new, modern video surveillance room.
Occupying a former library space at CTA headquarters, the new video surveillance room is approximately 2,800 square feet and is more than 12 times larger than the previous video room. Existing resources, including surplus furniture, computers and display monitors were used in creating the new room, resulting in no added costs to the CTA.
Security staff and police detectives who work with the CTA on a regular basis have access to 20 terminals with 35 displays to view video from rail stations, rail cars and buses. In addition, there are seven dedicated workspaces for CTA investigators and security specialists; a quad-screen video panel for large-scale or multi-viewing purposes; and a team conference room.
CTA’s expanded video surveillance room, which provides Chicago police and CTA investigators access to live camera feeds and recorded surveillance footage that can aide in their investigations of crimes committed either on or near CTA properties.
- Mayor Emanuel, CTA Announce Serious Crimes, Thefts Continue Downward Trend on CTA Trains, Buses (press release, 07/29/2014)
- Mayor Emanuel and President Claypool Announce Completion of Project to Install Cameras on Rail Cars (press release, 05/07/2014)
- Tag, You’re Arrested! New CTA Cameras Aid Fight Against Vandalism (press release, 04/22/2014)
- CTA Makes Images Available of Person Last Seen with Alligator Abandoned at O’Hare (press release, 11/12/2013)
- Serious crime on CTA down 19 percent in 2012 (press release, 02/25/2013)
- CTA to Expand Surveillance Cameras on Rail Cars (press release, 02/11/2013)
- Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CTA President Forrest Claypool Announce Installation of Security Cameras at ‘L’ stops Has Been Completed Ahead of Schedule (press release, 11/21/2011)
- Mayor Emanuel Highlights the Critical Role of Security Cameras on Chicago’s Transit in Solving Two Major Crimes (press release, 10/15/2011)
- Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces Additional Measure to Ensure the Safety and Security of People Across Chicago (press release, 07/27/2011)
- CTA Announces New Security Initiatives (press release, 06/20/2011)