Video of a wheelchair-bound subway rider falling down an MBTA escalator has made the rounds thanks to the "T's" new surveillance system, but the $6.5 million in cameras and related equipment is really intended to fight the war on terror.
"The idea of these cameras obviously is anti-terrorism," said Randy Clarke, MBTA Security Director.
The cameras, which shoot in high-definition, are being paid for by the US Department of Homeland Security's Transit Security Grant Program, which has been giving hundreds of millions of dollars to transit systems across the US. Boston got the 6th most money in the country in fiscal year 2011, with the "T" receiving about $135 million from the grant for security improvements since 2005.
Transit systems in large urban areas that are considered higher risk for terrorism are getting the most money, said Todd McGhee, former lead trainer for the Massachusetts State Police anti-terrorism unit.
"Does Boston remain an enticing target for a terrorist?" FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked him.
"I'm going to say yes," McGhee said, who now runs his security training firm, Protecting the Homeland Innovations.
"What's the real reason they want these high quality cameras?" Beaudet asked.
"When you take a look at the threat that's posed with terrorism and just high-risk targets and with the regular everyday criminal activity… you now have the ability to harden your infrastructure. You have a way to capture this information. And later on it provides a forensic value to the investigators in the event of a critical incident," McGhee said.
McGhee says that public transit is a "very high value target" considering it is open access, heavily populated and key to the region's economy.
McGhee says Boston is considered among the top 10 potential terrorist targets in the country, and that's why the "T" and the "T's" big city counterparts are getting so much homeland security money.
The "T" has about 15 camera installation projects underway, and the technology upgrade will be continuing for the next two years.
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