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Mayor proposes new high-tech weapons detection in subways, mental health clinicians also to be deployed in train stations

It all ties together: Safer subways invite more riders to alleviate congestion pricing difficulties

March 29, 2024 Special to IN PUBLIC SERVICE
Mayor Eric Adams smiles during a news conference about new portable weapon detectors in New York, March 28, 2024.Photo: Marc A. Hermann/Metropolitan Transportation Authority via AP
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NYC UNDERGROUND — As of Sunday, March 24, 2024, NYPD officers have seized a total of 450 weapons — including 19 illegal guns — in the New York City transit system this year, compared to 261 weapons — including nine guns — during the same period last year. The NYPD also seized 1,515 weapons in the subway system in 2023, including 1,470 cutting instruments and 45 illegal firearms. That tally was a stark increase from the previous year, when 947 total weapons were seized, including 912 cutting instruments and 35 guns.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Edward A. Caban have announced efforts being taken to make the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) subway system safer by investing in new technology to detect firearms, as well as invest in more clinicians that will help those suffering from severe mental illness in the nation’s largest subway system.

The city is exploring, and will soon begin piloting, emerging technologies designed to detect weapons carried by travelers into the transit system. In accordance with the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act, the NYPD also published online its Impact and Use Policy for electromagnetic weapons detection systems, starting a mandatory 90-day waiting period before new technology can be tested and used in New York City. Additionally, Mayor Adams announced that the city will begin hiring clinicians to support the expansion of the Subway Co-Response Outreach Teams (SCOUT), a pilot program launched in partnership with the state and the MTA to connect people with untreated severe mental illness in the subways to mental health treatment and care.

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But a contrary voice from The Legal Aid Society, Jerome Greco, Supervising Attorney of the Digital Forensics Unit, says, “Simply put, gun detection systems are flawed and frequently trigger false alarms …”

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