More than 450 security cameras watching for potential terrorists on Boston’s rapid transit system are helping catch alleged criminals, says the Boston Globe. Last Friday, transit police arrested a man accused of robbing a passenger at gunpoint. Such cases have often gone unsolved, and the arrest would have been far less likely without digital images from a surveillance camera at the station. So far, about a dozen crimes have been solved with help from the cameras.
Detectives now are routinely using cameras to narrow down suspects. Even when police are unable to identify a suspect with the digital images, they usually get promising leads by significantly enhancing a suspect’s description to include details of clothing and distinguishing features, such as moles and tattoos. One victim described his assailant as a man with a tattoo on his neck. Transit police showed the victim photos of more than 100 known offenders with neck tattoos. When the victim picked someone out, police checked the digital surveillance cameras and found an image of the same man entering the station around the time of the robbery. That helped police obtain an arrest warrant for a man, who was charged with armed robbery and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The transit system cameras — about 50 more will be put in by spring — are funded in part by $23 million in federal homeland security grants since 2002. The fiber-optic cameras, which record images with far more detail than older video cameras, are in place at every subway station and some bus stations.