Caught on camera

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All TriMet MAX stations now equipped with security cameras; Improvements planned for train/bus camera system

If you commit a crime on TriMet, chances are that you will be caught on camera – and caught by police. TriMet now has more than 4,400 security cameras systemwide, which includes all 87 MAX stations thanks to generous grants from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To increase security even more, TriMet is planning a major upgrade of the cameras on buses and trains.

“With the significant investments we’re making in our extensive network of security cameras, the last place you want to commit a crime is on TriMet,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “We appreciate our partnership with the TSA and our combined dedication to providing a safe and secure environment for TriMet riders and employees.

TSA-TriMet partnership enhances security

The TSA has supplied TriMet with more than $4.9 million since fiscal year 2005 to equip all MAX platforms with security cameras. The cameras were installed on the last ten platforms by the end of 2013 and made operational in the past few months.

“TSA is pleased to provide the funding to enhance TriMet’s security capabilities on the MAX system” said Mike Irwin, Oregon Federal Security Director for the TSA. “Security cameras, including those that allow for live monitoring of locations, have proven a vital tool in protecting transit systems and discouraging criminal activity.”

Security cameras/video help Transit Police capture suspects

TriMet’s security cameras deter crime by helping to identify, catch and prosecute criminals. When a crime is reported, our Transit Police officers review the footage and pull images to share with police officers throughout the area. Often that collaboration leads to the capture of a criminal. In two recent incidents, images released to the public helped police nab suspects.

Security camera images released to public aids in arrests

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Left: TriMet security camera image of sexual abuse suspect. Right: Mug shot of suspect Jason Raynard Tomlin.

TriMet and police desperately wanted to find the man who inappropriately touched two teenage girls on two separate occasions. Immediately following the second incident, police released an image from TriMet security cameras to the public. Tips from the public based on that image led officers to a suspect: 46-year-old Jason Raynard Tomlin. Tomlin was arrested on March 18 and charged with two counts of Sex Abuse in the First Degree.

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Left: TriMet security camera image of vandalism suspect. Right: Mug shot of suspect Darrell Stephen Rivera.

Police weren’t having much luck tracking down a man who kicked and damaged a window on a MAX train in North Portland on February 15, 2014. They released a still image from the TriMet security camera and by March 18, they not only identified Darrell Stephen Rivera as the suspect but arrested him as well.

Our cameras also assist in solving crimes not related to TriMet. The security cameras, especially those on MAX platforms, can capture incidents that happen on nearby streets and even blocks away.

Security cameras expose lies, protect people and the agency

The use of TriMet security cameras doesn’t stop with arrests. Prosecutors then use video and still images at trial. For juries, seeing is believing. Also, prosecutors often use the video to clear people who are being falsely accused of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, TriMet attorneys use the video to expose people who file false claims against the agency and to prosecute them as well.

Extra ‘eyes’ add to security efforts

“The security cameras give us extra eyes on the system and add an important layer to our security efforts,” said TriMet Executive Director of Safety and Security Harry Saporta.

There are few reported crimes on the TriMet system and preliminary statistics from 2013 show crime dropping. On the MAX system alone, reported crimes dropped by 27 percent to 419 incidents. With more than 38 million trips taken on MAX in 2013, that’s about one reported crime in every 91,378 trips.

Major camera system improvements planned on buses/trains

In the coming weeks, TriMet will solicit requests for proposals to improve the security cameras installed on our buses and trains. All MAX trains and more than 90 percent of buses have security cameras. Some of our oldest on board cameras will be replaced and all our cameras will be converted from analog to digital. The upgrade is a major project that will likely take about six years and about $7.5 million dollars.

“With the new improvements, buses and trains will be equipped with the latest technology to further enhance the safety of our customers and employees,” said Saporta.