Bloomberg in London to Observe Transit Security

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Tuesday, May 11, 2010  |  Updated 1:36 PM EDT
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Times Square Bomb Scare

AP

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, listens to London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks to the media during a visit to the Westminster underground station control room to see the London transport CCTV network.

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Mayor Bloomberg is in London today to observe the network of security cameras on the city's transport system.

London Mayor Boris Johnson showed Mayor Bloomberg a closed-circuit television facility, or CCTV, at Westminster Underground station. CCTV is a system of 12,000 cameras on London's subway system, a security upgrade that London officials tout for combating crime and terrorism.

The system was installed after 2005, when 52 people were killed in suicide bomb attacks on three of London's underground trains and one bus.  More than 900 people were injured in the coordinated morning rush hour attacks. 

 "We are never complacent, and there are always painful reminders that we must never let down our guard, but it is clear that the approach we are taking - with sustained investment in policing and CCTV - is helping us make significant strides along the road of tackling crime in our city," London's mayor said.

Bloomberg has expressed enthusiasm for London's security camera network, one of the world's largest. 

"I am here to learn from others, see what works best and try to fix things before they become a problem," he said.  "Crime rates in both the subway systems in London and New York City are as low as you can get, but there's always the threat of terrorism. ... Wouldn't you want to be safe?'' Bloomberg told reporters. ``I am here to learn from others, see what works best, and try to fix things before they become a problem.''

The surveillance "ring of steel" around London's central business district was the inspiration for a 3,000-camera system in lower Manhattan. A similar system is planned for Midtown. The Lower Manhattan phase calls for 3,000 "smart" cameras with software to prompt police with an alarm when a suspicious car or package is detected. License plate detectors are also part of the plan.  So far, about 400 cameras have found their way into downtown.

Concerns about security on trains and in busy parts of the city have escalated again recently.  Last week, federal and local law enforcement arrested a Pakistani-born naturalized citizen, Faisal Shahzad, in connection with a failed plot to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on a busy Saturday night.

In February, an Afghan immigrant pleaded guilty in New York federal court to what authorities described as one of the most serious threats to the United States since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.  Najibullah Zazi admitted to planning to bomb city subway trains during rush hour in what he called a "martyrdom operation."

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