The MTA is on the hot seat in Washington after the Brooklyn subway shooting that rocked the city, as local congressmen demand answers on why cameras malfunctioned at the time of the attack at hours morning rush.
On Wednesday, the MTA received a letter signed by three members of the New York congressional delegation, specifically asking how much federal money is being spent on camera maintenance — an important question for politicians, given that the agency transportation receives millions of federal security dollars each year. .
A total of 10 members of Congress added their names to the list of people seeking answers after the stern letter was sent to MTA Chairman Janno Lieber. The letter said the subway system was the lifeblood of NYC and detailed how the agency secured tens of millions of dollars in federal grants in 2020 and 2021 — and received even more for 2022.
Funding for the agency currently stands at $93 million, causing lawmakers to question the functionality of all of the MTA’s cameras.
“I think nothing is more important than the safety of the subway system,” said Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres, who serves as vice chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and helps lead the investigative effort.
He and the other two members of the New York congressional delegation who signed the letter said the need for answers is critical, given the global spike in crime on the subway.
“There was a series of shootings. Stabbings. Punching and shoving that shook confidence in the subway system,” Torres said.
When the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting last week was arrested, it was thanks to a citywide effort — not just the police, but ordinary New Yorkers also played a part. On Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams paid tribute to those who helped capture the suspect. NBC New York reports Adam Harding.
After the April 12 attack at the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, law enforcement sources told NBC New York that the inability to access the station’s cameras slowed the investigation. If there had been no cell phone video, there would be little to no video showing what happened immediately after the alleged gunman opened fire and shot 10 passengers on the crowded N train .
An MTA representative said the cameras malfunctioned that day due to an Internet server issue and that the agency had “made extensive use of the Transit Safety Grant Program, but we were disappointed that the funding has been stable since 2012”.
The MTA has refuted claims that the faulty camera hampered the investigation. Staff members said other videos and other evidence in the system proved essential.
As passengers seem more at ease after the arrest of the alleged subway shooter, the MTA faces even more questions about safety on the tracks. NBC New York’s Andrew Siff reports.
The letter from the members of Congress requested specifics from the agency regarding their camera system, such as: how often the cameras are audited; timelines for resolving issues; and how much is spent installing, maintaining and upgrading the MTA’s more than 10,100 cameras system-wide.
“We have a right to know if the cameras are working effectively,” Torres said. “My message to the MTA is that the feds are watching.”
After a 30-hour manhunt, police located and arrested suspect Frank James in Manhattan.
The MTA has until April 30 to get written responses from Congress.