- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

Metro soon could be installing digital recorders attached to existing cameras that monitor passengers and employees at subway stops, a move transit officials say will help solve crimes and manage overcrowded stations.
Concerns about improving surveillance at Metro's 83 stations were raised after the fatal shooting of Metro Transit Officer Marlon Morales by a suspected fare evader in June at the Green Line U Street-Cardozo subway stop.
Metro Transit Police Chief Barry J. McDevitt and other officials said they had been looking into installing digital recorders as early as two months before Officer Morales' slaying, but the rookie officer's death spurred more discussion about the new technology.
"The Morales shooting brought this to the front burner," Chief McDevitt said yesterday.
Metro Board of Directors' safety committee yesterday approved Chief McDevitt's plan to first install the recorders at 14 stations — 11 in the District, two in Virginia and one in Maryland.
In the District, recorders will be installed at the McPherson Square, Metro Center, Van Ness-UDC, Tenleytown-AU, Gallery Place-Chinatown, L'Enfant Plaza, Navy Yard, Judiciary Square, Union Station, Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland-CUA stations; in Virginia at the Rosslyn and National Airport stops; and at the Branch Avenue station in Maryland.
The stations were selected, Chief McDevitt said, because they alreadyare connected by fiber-optic cable and monitored at Metro's downtown headquarters. The recorders would be located in the communications center of each station.
There is one recorder per 16 cameras, with some stations having has many as 28 cameras monitoring passenger traffic.
Chief McDevitt said an analysis by his and other safety departments at Metro found the first group of stations were more prone to crime, overcrowding or accidents than other stations.
Metro has a total of 1,400 cameras in operation at its subway stations.
Chief McDevitt said adding the recorders would provide police and safety officials another tool to re-create accidents and crimes, as well as ensure the stations are not getting swamped with passengers on busy days, like the Fourth of July.
"[Passengers] are not going to notice any changes," Chief McDevitt said.
Within the next six years, Metro wants to have all its stations outfitted with the recorders and have fiber-optic lines running to its headquarters, Chief McDevitt said.
The $1.5-million cost for the upgrade will be paid from a credit Pepco owes the transit agency, Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said.
Since the addition of the recorders was not included in this year's budget, the board's September budget committee will have to approve the expenditure, he said.
Mr. Feldmann said the existing cameras "were never designed as a policing, law enforcement" tool and the recorders, which maintain images for up to 72 hours, will aid police in documenting crimes.
Chief McDevitt said "the bar is pretty high" when it comes to officials needing to justify replaying the recorders. "Our intention is not to monitor employees," he said.
Neil Ivey, a spokesman for the Security Industry Association, said the use of digital recorders is very common in the private sector, but less so in the public arena.
Metro is within its rights to use the recorders because most people who ride the subway "assume they are in public" and do not have a right to privacy, he said.
"They are being recorded in case of a crime," Mr. Ivey said.

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