IL: CTA to Add Police Patrols, Cameras; Public Safety Priority to High Ridership Areas

The Chicago Police Department has boosted patrols on the CTA by deploying officers alongside commuters, and plans are under way to double the number of cameras at train stations, CTA officials said Monday.

Officers formerly assigned to schools have already begun riding trains in highly visible "Wolfpack" teams of four to six members to deter crime, Lt. John Wittenberg said. The increase in security also includes plainclothes officers who will concentrate on preventing the theft of electronic devices, CTA President Forrest Claypool said as he unveiled the summer initiative.

"The congregation of a more visible and beefed up presence, as well as the invisible presence of undercover officers, will cause many would-be criminals to think twice and know that we're watching," Claypool said. Authorities monitored crime reports to determine which train lines merited a stronger police force, Wittenberg said.

Areas with high ridership, such as the Roosevelt, Clark and Lake stops, were also considered a priority, he said. Once school resumes in the fall, it is unknown whether or not the heightened CTA security will remain, Wittenberg said.

The CTA security initiatives announced Monday also include plans to expedite the installation of security cameras in train stations. The CTA plans to double the number of surveillance cameras to 3,000 by the end of 2011 through a $16 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Claypool said.

"The additional 1,500 cameras will ensure comprehensive coverage, capturing many images that would have been missed under the current partial deployment," Claypool said. This week, 20 cameras will be added to the Halsted station on the Orange Line. The Jarvis, Morse, Bryn Mawr and Argyle stations will also be fitted with additional cameras within the next few days, CTA officials said. Cameras already in place led to arrests in 13 cases this year. Last year, 69 arrests were made with the help of camera images, according to CTA.

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