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Surveillance cameras more than tripled among two Orange Line stations

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  September 29, 2011 02:53 PM

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A recent project has sharply increased the number of video-surveillance cameras at two Orange Line MBTA stations in Jamaica Plain, officials said.

Forest Hills station quadrupled its camera count by adding 58 cameras, some installed in the bus-ways and some in the yard where subway trains are kept when not in use. Intrusion-detection systems were also installed in the train yard, according to a T spokesman.

The station, which serves as a commuter rail stop as well as the Orange Line’s terminus, now has 77 cameras total.

Jackson Square station, near where Jamaica Plain and Roxbury meet, has also added 11 cameras and now contains a total of 15, spokesman Joe Pesaturo said. The new cameras provide views of the front of the station, the bus-ways, and the area to the left and behind the station facing the adjacent ball courts and housing complex.

The $963,000 in new cameras and security equipment was funded entirely through federal grant money from the federal Homeland Security department, he said.

Plans for additional security cameras at Jackson Square station were announced earlier this summer as a response to an increase in reports of serious crimes there.

Cameras have been installed at every subway station across the T system for nearly the past five years, Pestauro said earlier this summer. Some buses and trains also have cameras.

Transit Police Lieutenant Michael Shea said previously that cameras are used for multiple reasons including public safety and general operation of the subway.

Grants from the Department of Homeland Security paid for “many” of the cameras, which have no operational cost associated with them, Pesaturo has said. Over the past decade, that federal agency created in response to 9/11 has provided grants to other subway systems across the country to install security cameras.

Some, including the ACLU of Massachusetts, have expressed concern over the added surveillance as a potential invasion of privacy.

Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan said earlier this year that the T plans to expand its camera system to identify and catch criminal suspects. The transit system often asks for the public’s help by posting video clips or snapshots from those cameras on the Web.

In February, Boston.com detailed how reports of serious crime across the MBTA system had risen 19 percent last year from the year prior. Still, the number of crimes reported during 2010 was the fourth-lowest in the past three decades. Only 2006, 2008 and 2009 -- the lowest total on record -- saw fewer crimes reported.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.

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