NJ Transit installing cameras on all light rail trains in response to spate of robberies
Cameras are coming to NJ Transit's light rail trains in a response to riders' concerns about security and a spate of cellphone robberies on the Newark city subway. "The River Line has implemented on-board cameras, which NJ Transit police can use to monitor activity on the (light rail) vehicle. Cameras will be rolled out in June on Hudson-Bergen and Newark Light Rail lines," said Janice Pepper, NJ Transit director of research. Cameras already have been installed on River Line trains,which cost $750,000 and the $1.9 million expense to install them on Hudson -Bergen and Newark light rail trains will be covered by a federal Homeland Security grant, said Jennifer Nelson, an NJ Transit spokeswoman. Safety and security were among the items that light rail riders said were areas to improve in NJ Transit's most recent Scorecard customer survey results "We're doing what we do on the River Line, we have video and audio coverage in the cars," said Christopher Trucillo, chief of NJ Transit's police department. "We hope that's a deterrent." On the Newark city subway, NJ Transit police coverage is being increased during the evening commute hours for 4 to 8 p.m., which is when many robberies occur, he said. "Our number one issue on Light Rail is thefts of smart phones and robbery, particularly in Newark," Trucillo said. "The arrests we make are usually groups or packs of two to three offenders at a time, who overtake someone and steal their device."
in 2014, there were 28 robberies reported on all three NJ Transit light rail systems, for which 29 people were arrested. Of those, 14 robberies were committed on the Newark Subway and Light Rail, 7 on Hudson-Bergen and 7 on the River Line, Nelson said. This year, a total of 7 robberies were committed on all three lines, resulting in 6 arrests, she said
In addition to beefing up patrols by uniformed officers, Trucillo said plain clothes undercover officers also are riding the subway.
"We want to let the riders know we're out there," he said. As was done on River Line trains, announcements will be made on board trains telling riders that there is "audio and video" coverage inside the rail car, Trucillo said. Signs on station platforms and leaflets on trains, in English and Spanish, also advised riders that they are under video and audio surveillance, Nelson said. Similar methods will be used to inform riders on Hudson-Bergen and Newark Light Rail trains, she said.
"We hope by doing that it, that it acts as a deterrent," he said. PATH trains also have on-board cameras to monitor riders, which was a built in feature of the new PA-5 cars that replaced older trains.