NYC to Deploy Portable Gun Scanners in Subways to Enhance Security

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In a bid to boost subway security and the confidence of commuters, New York city officials have introduced a plan to deploy portable gun scanners in several strategic stations, a decision that comes at the tail end of a mandatory 90-day waiting period, as per the announcement made by Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday.

In his statement, Adams emphasized the crucial role of upholding security in the city’s subway system to augment the ubiquitous feeling of safety, a cornerstone to maintaining New York’s reputation as the safest big city in America. To reinforce this, the city authorities are concurrently setting plans into motion to dispatch extra outreach workers to subway stations. Their primary objective will be to initiate treatment for those wrestling with mental health issues and residing in the system.

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Confidence in the effectiveness of these portable scanners, the authorities said, lies in the identification and cooperation of companies seeped in the expertise of weapons detection technology. Following the initial waiting period, the scanners, government officials foresee, will be placed in varied subway stations allowing the NYPD an opportunity to ascertain their performance firsthand.

During the unveiling at a news conference held within the confines of a Lower Manhattan station, it was revealed that the demonstrated scanner was a product of Evolv – a publicly traded company. This company has stirred controversy in the past due to allegations of tampering with the results of software testing to inflate the success rate of its scanners.

Jerome Greco, an overseeing attorney from the Legal Aid Society’s digital forensics unit, voiced his concerns over these gun detection systems, indicating the possibility of false alarms and the ensuing panic it could trigger. He further criticized the administration’s overreliance on technology for public safety as misguided, potentially expensive, and a potential threat to privacy.

The city, Mayor Adams stated, will execute its own evaluation of the scanners’ accuracy, acknowledging past dubious experience with the technology. Demonstrations held at the Fulton Street station showed the scanner beep after a short delay when a police officer with a holstered gun passed through, while it remained silent as officers with cellphones and other devices walked by.

Although instances of violent crime are few and far between in the city’s subway, which accommodates about 3 million travelers daily, there have been a couple of recent harrowing events that bear mention. Earlier in March, a man was critically wounded after being shot with his own firearm amid a confrontation with another passenger. Similarly, the previous month, a brawl between two groups on crowded Subway car resulted in gunfire, leading to one fatality and multiple injuries.

Homicides have shown a reduction in the subway system with only five reported in the last year compared to 10 the year before, as per police records. In the first two months of this year, three homicides have been accounted for.

Adding to these security measures, city officials announced plans on Monday to augment the subway forces with 800 more police officers to alleviate fare evasion. The decision comes after instances of gun seizures in the system have increased, with 17 guns confiscated from people stopped in the system this year, as revealed at a board meeting held by Janno Lieber, Chair, and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday.

Above all, the implementation of this portable gun scanner initiative is a primary response to the recent fatal shove in an East Harlem subway station. This tragic incident has thrust the issue of subway safety back into the spotlight, leading authorities to explore strategies that would effectively address and aid in overcoming this challenge.