Metro will install surveillance cameras outside all 86 rail stations in an effort to curtail rising crime, officials said Thursday.
The project will be paid for with a $2.8 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security, Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said.
The money will buy 153 color cameras. Installation was scheduled to begin Thursday or Friday.
“All of the cameras will act to alert us to activities taking place,” Chief Taborn said. “Now we’re in the position to make our customers and employees safer day by day.” It was unclear Thursday how the cameras would be distributed or in what order stations would receive them.
The announcement came during a meeting of the Metro Board’s Safety and Security Committee that included a report showing that the number of robberies and thefts on the Metro system hit five-year highs in 2010.
The agency has been especially concerned about recent reports of teens hanging around Metro train stations. Chief Taborn said teens committed more than 25 percent of the crimes last year, about 10 percent higher than in 2009.
D.C. Police say a group of teens was responsible for the March 9 stabbing of a 23-year-old man outside the Gallery Place-Chinatown station in the District.
Metro installed 20 outdoor security cameras in 2009 at rail stations in jurisdictions that agreed to purchase them. The District paid $200,000 for 17 cameras and Fairfax County paid $75,000 for four cameras.
Maryland opted not to install cameras, despite having the three stations with the highest numbers of violent crimes. The same three stations — Greenbelt, Branch Avenue and New Carrollton — again were the top three stations for serious crimes in 2010.
Jack Cahalan, a Maryland Department of Transportation spokesman, said Thursday that the question of whether the state should have purchased the cameras earlier has become a “moot point” now that the federal government is paying for the installation.
He also said the cameras won’t solve security problems alone but will be “one more layer to the security matrix.”
Metro Board member Jeffrey McKay, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said he was concerned about “end-of-the-line stations” where commuters often leave their cars and bikes unattended for up to 10 hours a day.
Mr. McKay, a reserve deputy sheriff for Fairfax County, also supported a proposal to consider recruiting volunteers to help patrol Metro stations.
“We live in a region rich with law enforcement retirees who care about this system,” he said. “I think we could find a lot of support, and I think there is a great wealth of opportunity. I think this should be a topic of discussion at a meeting with other law enforcement agencies.”