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New York will test gun detection technology in subway system, mayor says

New York City plans to test technology to detect guns in the subway system, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday, as officials try to make transit riders feel safer in the wake of shootings. deadly pushing attack earlier this week.

Adams told a news conference that pilots of the technology, which will begin in a few months, will be rolled out at several stations and will help provide a sense of security to bus passengers who have recently experienced several serious safety incidents. disturbed. Describe acts of violence.

The new technology will be launched in partnership with: Evolv Technology, a Massachusetts startupsaid Mr. Adams.

A city spokesman clarified the mayor’s earlier comments, saying the city does not have any contract with Evolv and that the announcement was intended to be an open call to any company with a similar product.

In 2022, Evolv raised concerns with City Hall that its technology could create bottlenecks if used in the subway system, according to people involved in the discussions.

“What I know about technology is that the first version will continue to get better,” Mr. Adams said Thursday in response to a producer’s question.

Evolv’s device looks like the metal detectors commonly found in courthouses and ballparks. The company says the devices are programmed with “signatures” of certain items, which allows them to detect weapons.

“Random acts of violence are affecting the psyche of New Yorkers,” Adams said. “We’re going to evolve in a way that ensures technology is part of public safety agencies.”

But civil liberties advocates question whether adding surveillance equipment to a transit system that already has thousands of cameras, as well as baggage checks run by police and the National Guard, will solve safety concerns. Some technology experts say the mayor’s claims that the machines promote security are unreliable.

“This technology will definitely slow down your commute, but it won’t keep you safe,” said Albert Fox Cahn, the company’s executive director. Monitoring technology supervision projecta New York-based privacy and civil rights organization.

Evolv spokesperson Alexandra Smith Ozerkis said the company’s technology team is “working with NYPD security experts to understand how and where our technology can best be used to achieve their security and operational goals.”

She added that the technology “continues to improve both in terms of detection and its ability to operate in more challenging environments.”

Nikita Ermolaev, a researcher at the Pennsylvania-based surveillance industry group IPVM, points out that the equipment is expensive. He said leasing a piece of equipment costs about $125,000 over a four-year contract. By comparison, he added, traditional metal detectors can often be purchased outright for less than $10,000 each.

City officials did not say Thursday how much they plan to spend on the pilot project.

The new initiative was announced just days after a man was pushed to the door. East Harlem Trains and was killed.The man involved in the attack, Carlton McPherson, 24, had a previous Acts violently towards others and their families, says he suffers from mental illness.

During Thursday’s press conference, the mayor also announced that the city would soon begin recruiting new employees to deploy teams of mental health workers across the subway system as part of a $20 million investment from the state.

Mr Adams stressed the chances of being victimized on the subway were slim.

Mr. Adams said the city’s subway system sees about six felony cases a day and averages 4 million daily riders, but “we can’t do our job if they don’t feel safe.”

Police data shows that overall, crime cases in the subway have increased by 4% this year compared with the same period last year. There were 5 homicides in the subway last year, down from 10 the year before.

But city and state leaders often say they are as concerned about actual crime rates as they are about safety.Clashes broke out on the A train earlier this month A man grabs a gun from another man who threatened him, ending in violence and shot him in the head. last month, A subway worker was stabbed at the Rockaway Avenue station in Brooklyn.

Some transportation advocates expressed support for the experiment.

“If technology can help keep weapons off platforms and trains without delaying service, which is a big ‘if,'” said Danny Pearlstein, part of the Passengers Alliance, an advocacy group in New York. Then passengers will feel at ease.”

The gun detection program is Mr Adams’ latest high-tech solution to public safety concerns.Since taking office, the mayor, a self-proclaimed tech geek, has launched a Robot patrols Times Squareexpanded use drone and boasted that the city used robot dog Provide assistance in emergency situations.

The Legal Aid Society last year asked the police department to investigate the use of surveillance technology, arguing it violated the law City laws requiring its disclosure How to use new technologies and protect data.

Jerome Greco, an attorney who heads the organization’s digital forensics unit, said in a statement Thursday that the government’s continued reliance on technology to address security concerns is “misguided, costly and a serious violation of privacy.” ”.

The mayor’s announcement Thursday marks the beginning of a 90-day waiting period during which the public can weigh in on the new technology and its proposed uses.Mr. Adams said city officials Published online Thursday Policies governing the use of new surveillance equipment. Officials said the equipment will be deployed after a waiting period.

Adams’ announcement Thursday is the latest step to ensure system security.

Subways are critical to New York’s recovery from the pandemic.That makes passengers’ concerns a top priority for officials, who have Wave after wave of deployment Over the past two years, law enforcement officers, mental health workers and monitors have entered the system.

The subway is patrolled by thousands of law enforcement officers, including National Guard troops, state police and city police.The police have started working 1,200 additional overtime hours per day Inside the subway, the number of officers has roughly doubled Deploy 1,000 additional police officers earlier this year.Then 1,000 additional National Guard troopsadding state troopers and traffic officers this month, and Another 800 police officers this week.

Paramedics were sent to help homeless people, sometimes even forcibly removing them from the subway. Over the past two years, thousands of monitors have been installed, and thousands of monitors have been installed in total. about 16,000 MTA officials say every train car will be equipped with the devices by the end of the year.

Transit leaders also installed structural features in an effort to make riders feel safe.Officials are testing New ticket gates to stop turnstile jumpers and metal platform barriers To prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks, they plan to add brighter lights to the system to help make the system less claustrophobic and help the subway’s cameras capture better footage.

Dana Rubinstein Contributed reporting. Alain de la Guerrier Contributed research.

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