Security Cameras Get Chicago Transit Boost

Following a tragic spring death related to an iPhone robbery on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) platform stairway, after several so-called “flash mob” attacks on or around stations, and linked to a new Chicago mayor, CTA President Forrest Claypool said in mid-June that he plans to double the number of security cameras across the rail system, while also working with police to enhance security for passengers. Under the plan, Chicago police will deploy teams, called Wolfpacks, as well as plainclothes officers to patrol the system.

Still, cameras will be the eyes of the enhanced transit security plan. By using an accelerated bidding process with pre-certified technology vendors, cameras will be deployed along platforms and in other non-public secure areas in just six months. “We’re cutting the red tape that has delayed installation of these cameras,” says Claypool. “Using this innovative approach, we will saturate our system with cameras, so that potential criminal activity is recorded no matter where it occurs.”

Images captured from CTA security camera footage have been used by police to solve both CTA-related crimes and crimes that occur in the vicinity of CTA buses and rail stations. So far this year, images captured from CTA security cameras have assisted in the arrest of individuals involved in 13 cases. Last year, the police made 69 arrests with the help of images pulled from CTA cameras.

Currently, there are nearly 1,500 security cameras installed and operating on rail stations and platforms. The additional 1,500 cameras will ensure comprehensive coverage, capturing many images that would be missed under the current partial deployment.  Each camera provides a live feed to the CTA Control Center and the city’s Office of Emergency Management Communications (OEMC).

In addition to completing installation at stations, security cameras will also be added to CTA rail cars, although this initiative is still in the early stages. The new 5000 series rail cars will arrive already equipped with multiple cameras. Retrofitting the existing fleet will be a multi-year process but will vastly enhance the agency’s ability to capture images to share with law enforcement, according to an agency spokesperson.

Security technology will complement “feet on the ground” efforts. Transit officers who are freed from school assignments for the summer will be assigned to Wolfpack patrols – highly visible teams of uniformed officers that will be deployed across the system based on daily analysis of crime patterns and trends.   In addition, more officers will patrol in plainclothes in order to crack down on thefts of phones and other electronic devices.

In late spring, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave the go-ahead to expand what some say is the biggest network of public and private cameras in the nation when he agreed to link the city’s network with cameras at the Chicago Board of Trade, the Federal Reserve and AT&T's switching center. Not surprisingly, that expansion will be paid for with a $650,000 federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security.



Beyond Airports: More TSA Focus on Mass Transit
While the nation has talked and sometimes argued over airport security, mass transit systems and passenger railroads are critical and, no doubt, carry more passengers and goods each day than all the airplanes together.

Together, these systems – which include subways, bus transit systems, ferries, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) and commuter railroads, among others – provide more than 10 billion passenger trips per year. And the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has intensified its attention to this sector.

In early May, for example, John Pistole, the TSA administrator, flanked by Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, presented details of how they are “Securing Our Nation’s Mass Transit Systems against a Terrorist Attack.” Among the testimony, Pistole said that the characteristics essential to the efficient movement of millions of people – i.e., an open architecture connecting large populations in major metropolitan areas through multimodal systems within multimodal infrastructures – create potential security vulnerabilities.

Pistole then thumb nailed a number of programs that can be local, state or national in scope and in which transportation agencies, their security executives and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are partnering.

For example, DHS has a Transit Security Grant Program that provides awards to eligible transit agencies to support state and local governments in devising and implementing initiatives to improve security. TSA also deploys Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams in the mass transit and passenger rail domains with local law enforcement entities to augment the security protocols provided by the local systems.

One very effective and cost-efficient anti-terrorism effort has been in the area of operational deterrence activities. These activities include public awareness campaigns, training, drills and exercises. One of the most well-known campaigns is the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign, which was originally implemented by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Go to Securitymagazine’s web archive for more information on it.

Transit security grants have also been used for critical infrastructure protection activities. These activities include intrusion detection, physical hardening and surveillance measures for underwater tunnels, bridges and multi-user, high-volume stations.

Just like enterprise security leaders, by performing baseline and collaborative risk assessments in the mass transit and passenger rail domains, contends Pistole, “TSA is able to engage state and local partners on how to reduce vulnerabilities, assess risk and improve security efforts. These assessments are conducted with emphasis on the 100 largest mass transit and passenger rail systems in terms of passenger volume, which collectively account for more than 80 percent of all users of public transportation.”



Port Security: Who Responds When the U.S. Coast Guard Can’t?

With seaports, terminals and transportation facilities, private security and local law enforcement often are first responders to incidents that can range from terror threats to vandalism incidents.

Mitch Smith, director of the Lower Mississippi River Portwide Strategic Security Council, realizes the challenge. His solution: the local police departments’ S.W.A.T. teams. This consists of 13 departments responsible for protecting the five deep-water ports; including the Port of South Louisiana, Port of New Orleans, Port of Baton Rouge, Port of St Bernard and Port of Plaquemine. Smith realizes officers were experts and well trained in land-based tactical operations; however inquiries with department tactical commanders revealed that these highly skilled operators had little or no training related to tactical operations in a maritime environment or on vessels.

The port director addressed the issue and also brought in private security, Talon Services of Marrero, La. A needs analysis was conducted by Talon’s maritime experts and a program designed to train the local S.W.A.T. team members was initiated. A weeklong course consists of both classroom training and tactical exercises conducted onboard vessels.

Talon’s initial 40 hour course is intended for tactical first responders with little or no prior maritime background. The training supports U.S. Coast Guard goals of enhancing maritime domain awareness by providing the knowledge and skills to enable tactical first responders to safely and effectively carry out their duties and responsibilities within seaports, facilities and on vessels.


Seaport Security Antiterrorism Training Available

Conducted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Seaport Security Antiterrorism Training Program (SSATP) is specifically designed to meet security needs of Port Security personnel. Security at most seaports is accomplished by a cooperative effort of Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies. This program was developed to include all jurisdictions involved at the seaport and to address the needs of the personnel charged with safety and security functions. This unique program offers port and landside facility inspections created to harden layered seaport security and protect against acts of terrorism. The SSATP is conducted as a center advanced training program and is offered to law enforcement, military, and port authority personnel. This advanced training opportunity lasts 4.5 class days and includes:

•  Curriculum

•  Underwater Threats

•  Countermeasures and Technology

•  Improvised Explosive Devices

•  Maritime Piracy and Crimes

•  Seaport Operations

•  U.S.S Cole Case Study

•  Behavioral Analysis and Information Collection

•  Seaport Security Inspection

•  Small Vessel Threats

•  Contingency Planning and ICS

•  Seaport Assessment Survey

•  Hands-on exercise

More information is at



Port of Miami Sets Security Bar Higher

Cutting-edge technology and progressive procedures are in place that provide heightened levels of protection and, at the same time, support compliance with port business policies.

Partners in this comprehensive initiative include: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Miami-Dade Police and Fire-Rescue Departments and others working to achieve a shared, united mission.

These highly efficient efforts are actually helping to move legitimate commerce through the Port in a faster, more seamless and cost-effective manner than ever before.

For example, the Port of Miami, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was the first port in the southeast to install radiation portal monitors, or RPMs, a state-of-the-art inspection technology that bolsters security without impeding the flow of cargo.

The port has one of the industry's most technologically advanced cargo gate facilities, integrating security functions, such as access control and credentialing, with business processes, including permitting and accounting. A combination of trendsetting software and hardware components produces faster processing times and, while ensuring compliance with Port business policies at the 16-lane cargo complex.

Long lines of waiting trucks may be common at other ports, but not at the Port of Miami, where processing times of less than two minutes are typical for effective completion of all security and financial procedures.

So what is a radiation portal monitor?

It’s a detection device that provides Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with a passive, non-intrusive means to screen trucks and other conveyances for the presence of nuclear and radiological materials. These systems are capable of detecting various types of radiation emanating from nuclear devices, dirty bombs, special nuclear materials, natural sources, and isotopes commonly used in medicine
and industry.

CBP is installing these radiation portal monitors nationwide – at seaports, land border ports of entry and crossings, including rail crossings, international airports, and international mail and express consignment courier facilities in an effort to screen 100 percent of all incoming goods, people, and conveyances for radiation.

The portal monitor is a passive system that captures and alerts to energy emitted by radioactive sources that happen to pass near it. The system is very similar to a radio receiver, in that it responds to certain types of energy and provides an indication to the operator of the strength of the energy received.

An alert by a portal monitor indicates that the device has detected a source of radiation passing by it. An alert by itself does not necessarily mean that a nuclear weapon or harmful radiation has been detected. There are many legitimate, "innocent" sources of radiation, including naturally occurring radiation and various medical and industrial isotopes that pose little threat to the public.       

Nevertheless, in the case of any alert by a portal monitor, CBP follows strict protocols to determine whether the source of radiation is a potential terrorist threat, a natural source, or a legitimate medical/industrial source of radiation. Depending on the determination, CBP will take the appropriate action called for in its response plans.



Truck Terminals: Technology Can Protect Sprawling Facilities

The economy moves on truck wheels. Valuable cargo often in trucks at terminals both small and sprawling can be vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

There are numerous access control efforts. But emerging high-technology solutions can range from security video analytics to old-fashioned but new-age updated blimps.

At the container terminal in Malaga, Spain, an IP-based system uses video surveillance, audio PA/intercoms, analytics and integration with access control to provide site-wide security and support for its logistics operation.

The system has delivered cost savings across the operation, according to Jorge Martín, technical director. “In addition to providing all round security, the surveillance system has transformed our operations. It enables us to better organize our employee shift patterns, investigate health and safety breeches, resolve labor disputes and most importantly, monitor and track container shipments, providing video evidence in the event of any customer claims. All of these have helped us to reduce costs.”

From IndigoVision, the de-centralized open architecture provides the container terminal with a flexible and scalable system, which not only benefits their current operation but was also key to providing a secure environment during construction. All components, including cameras, video recorders and video management workstations can be located at any point on the network, allowing them to be easily repositioned as necessary through the various construction phases. 

Real-time analytics built into transmitter modules enhance perimeter security. The virtual trip wire analytics function has been configured on several fixed cameras monitoring the perimeter. If an object crosses the trip wire then an alarm is raised in control center and operators are automatically alerted.

In another breakthrough, updated for new applications and new threats, blimps and other unmanned aerial vehicles now patrol some seaports, terminals and military bases. They can be equipped with multiple cameras for day and night assignments.