NYC to test gun detectors in the subway system

March 28, 2024

Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr

New York City will test weapon-detecting scanners in the subway system to make commuters feel safer after a string of violent incidents. Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday unveiled a portable scanner designed to detect guns carried by riders. The pilot program can begin following a 90-day waiting period during which the public can share their thoughts on the technology. The mayor also said the city will hire more clinicians to connect people with severe mental illness in the transit system to treatment and care.

Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr

As of March 24, NYPD officers this year have seized 450 weapons, including 19 illegal guns, in the transit system, according to the MTA. During the same period last year, 261 weapons were recovered, nine of which were guns.

However, overall crime in the transit system was down nearly 16 percent for the month of March, compared to March 2023.

“Keeping New Yorkers safe on the subway and maintaining confidence in the system is key to ensuring that New York remains the safest big city in America,” Adams said. “Today’s announcement is the next step in our ongoing efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of our transit system and to provide greater mental health services for New Yorkers in crisis.”

Created by Evolv Technology, the scanners use the same technology as Citi Field, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, and the American Museum of Natural History. The scanners do not have facial recognition capabilities. It’s not clear yet how the scanners will be set up or how many detectors will be installed in total.

The new initiative comes amid growing worries about safety in the subway system, including the fatal shoving of a man in front of a train in East Harlem on Monday and the shooting of a man on a A-train in Brooklyn last week.

On Monday, Adams directed 800 additional officers to the subway system to crack down on fare evasion, according to the Associated Press.

Overall arrests in the subway system are up nearly 56 percent this year compared to last year, including a 78 percent increase in fare-evasion arrests and a 111 percent increase in gun arrests.

Earlier this month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the deployment of roughly 1,000 National Guard and New York State police members to patrol the subway system and help officers check bags for weapons.

Adams also announced the city will hire more mental health clinicians who will be sent into the subway system as part of an expansion of the Subway Co-Response Outreach Treams (SCOUT) program.

“People with untreated serious mental illness taking refuge in the subway system deserve safety, stability, and community,” Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said.

“The journey to this destination takes time, but the first step is often the hardest: connecting a person with medical care that they may not recognize they need. This is the critical mission of our SCOUT teams. Through a co-response model, SCOUT empowers our caring clinicians to engage with New Yorkers in crisis, assess their needs, and respond accordingly.”


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