- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

Metro has installed 20 outdoor surveillance cameras to address an uptick in crime around rail stations, but the stations with the highest number of crimes were not among those getting the cameras.

The D.C. government paid $200,000 for 17 cameras, and Fairfax County provided $75,000 for four cameras, Metro officials said. But crime statistics show that Prince George’s County had the four stations with the most crime last year.

“The cameras are in D.C. and Fairfax County because they provided the funding for the cameras in their jurisdictions,” said Cathy Asato, a Metro spokeswoman.

According to Metro crime statistics, New Carrollton station on the Orange Line, Largo Town Center station on the Blue Line and the Suitland and College Park stations on either end of the Green Line had the highest number of violent crimes last year.

State transportation officials said surveillance cameras are not likely at those stations anytime soon.

“The addition of external security cameras remains an option, but we have no plans to install them at this time,” said Jack Cahalan, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Mr. Cahalan said transportation officials are always looking for ways to improve security at stations, and they are working with officials in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. He said each station has its own security challenges, and different methods work better in different locations.

“The District of Columbia and Fairfax County have determined that there would be a benefit to adding external security cameras at some of the Metrorail stations located in their jurisdictions because of the specific characteristics of the areas surrounding those stations,” Mr. Cahalan said.

Metro has an extensive camera network that monitors the inside of rail stations, and a camera was installed at the west entrance of the U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo station in November 2006.

“Riders want to feel safe when they’re using Metro,” said D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, who serves as Metro board chairman. “Cameras tend to deter crime, and we expect them to add to the security measures Metro already uses.”

Miss Asato said the cameras would be monitored by station managers in kiosks within the stations, but Metro Transit Police officers could also access the camera feeds. She said the cameras are capable of recording and that Metro would share footage with other police agencies if necessary.

In Fairfax County, cameras will be deployed in parking lots, while stations in the District will have cameras outside station entrances.

In the District, the cameras were installed at the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood, Congress Heights, Deanwood, Minnesota Avenue, Fort Totten, Takoma, Brookland-CUA, Columbia Heights, Georgia Avenue-Petworth and Tenleytown-AU stations.

An additional camera will be posted at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth station when construction on an adjacent building is completed.

In Fairfax County, cameras were installed at the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and Franconia-Springfield stations.

“We are concerned about improving the safety of our customers, not only as they travel through our system, but also as they get to and from our stations. Having cameras monitoring the streets leading to our stations gives us extra eyes to see whats going on in and around our system, and helps us make the Metro system safer for our riders and the communities we serve,” Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said.

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