Mayor Emanuel and President Claypool Announce Completion of Project to Install Cameras on Rail Cars

May 7, 2014

Cameras Enhance Safety for Passengers and Assist in Crime-Reduction Efforts; Crime on CTA Declines during First Quarter of 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool today announced that CTA has completed the installation of security cameras on more than 800 rail cars for virtually every rail car to have a camera to enhance safety for passengers and assist in crime-reduction efforts. The expansion of cameras in CTA transit coincides with a 26 percent decrease in serious crimes in the first three months of 2014 across the transit system, compared with the same period a year ago.

“The safety of our residents is a top priority, and we are committed to creating a world-class public transportation system that provides a comfortable, secure experience for all passengers,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By expanding numbers of cameras in public transit, we’re making it even clearer to criminals that if you commit a crime in any station, on any vehicle, and at any time of the day or night, you’ll be identified, you’ll be caught, and you’ll be punished.”

Between January and March 2014, the number of crimes declined across these categories:

  • Thefts, which had been on the rise in recent years as more customers own personal electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, have declined 23 percent overall.
  • Thefts have fallen 25 percent on buses, 16 percent on trains and 19 percent on rail platforms.
  • Robbery decreased by 38 percent on average for all CTA transit.
  • Aggravated battery decreased by 44 percent on average for all CTA transit.
  • Crimes on CTA rail platforms decreased 31 percent and fell 22 percent on CTA trains from January through March.
  • Crimes on buses declined 22 percent.


The decline in crimes coincides with the significant expansion of security cameras on the CTA under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel. Since late 2011, the CTA has doubled its rail station camera network to more than 3,600 cameras and last year began a $13.9 million program to install more than 3,300 360-degree cameras on 834 rail cars. The state-of-the-art cameras can record and store high-resolution images from all angles, increasing the ability to identify criminal suspects. Similar cameras are installed on the CTA’s newest generation of rail cars currently being added to CTA’s rail fleet, and all CTA buses have multiple security cameras as well, with the full complement of cameras totaling more than 23,000. 

“By installing a camera in every train, we have been able to lower crime and increase security for customers,” said President Claypool. “More cameras on the CTA have put criminals on notice and have led to the arrest of individuals involved in at least 97 cases so far this year with the aid of CTA video cameras. We’re able to more effectively fight crime by identifying suspects more easily and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

The drop in crime also stems from a number of more aggressive strategies used by the Chicago Police Department and the CTA to fight crime on the transit system, including the expanded presence of police on the CTA system via patrols and rail saturation missions and undercover operations targeting pickpocket theft rings and serial offenders.

Just last month, the CTA announced that security cameras have helped achieve a big jump in arrests for graffiti crimes. In just the first three months of 2014, a combination of surveillance missions and camera images aided in 60 graffiti-related arrests, the equivalent of all CTA vandalism arrests made in 2013.

“Every day our officers have the difficult task of investigating crimes that sometimes have few to no leads or witnesses,” said Nancy Lipman, Commander of the Chicago Police Department’s Public Transportation Unit. “Having access to images from CTA’s growing camera network provides our officers with valuable information that can help them quickly identify and apprehend those responsible before they commit similar crimes elsewhere.”

Crime is extremely low on the CTA system. Out of more than 120 million rides in January through March, there have been just 483 crimes on the system—or 4 crimes per every million rides. 

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