If you're ever attacked or see something suspicious in one of the Big Apple's subway stations, you may want to take notes after calling police. That's because nearly half of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 4,000 security cameras are not working.
To make matters worse for concerned passengers, the cash-strapped MTA has also cut the number officers who patrol major bridges and tunnels.
The non-working cameras, according to critics, are a blind spot in the crime and terrorism safety net for the nation's largest city.
A spokesman for the MTA says it not accurate that half of the subway security cameras already installed don't work. Aaron Donovan say while the cameras were installed, the wiring process for many of them is still underway.
The agency reportedly right now has more than 2200 in operation and expects to activate another 910 by June of this year.
But Donovan says he does not know when the rest of them will be up and running.
And on Sunday an unknown assailant stabbed two men to death on a train, exited at the Christopher Street station and was able to escape without being captured by any cameras.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said Tuesday the MTA needs more funding. But he says Albany lawmakers turned down a plan that would've eliminated most of the agency's problems.
"I think it's fair to say the MTA does not have enough money to provide the level of security that people want and that we should have," he said. "If we didn't learn the need for security in the subway system time and time in the past, yesterday or the day before should have taught us again."
The NYPD says it doesn't depend on the surveillance cameras set up by the MTA — instead, officers patrol the subways and set up random bag searches in stations around the city.
The NYPD is installing thousands of cameras around the city and is using private surveillance installed in major buildings as part of a massive security initiative. In addition, 500 specialized cameras are in place — an image from one of those cameras led officers to a suspect wanted in the brutal assault of a woman in a bar a few weeks ago.
"As cameras proliferate, as we build more of them, they become more instrumental in solving crimes. They also act as a deterrent," said Paul Browne, a Police Department spokesman.
"The safety and security of our customers is the MTA's top priority," Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said in a statement. "In a post-9/11 world we have worked together to harden our infrastructure, secure sensitive areas and prioritize locations for surveillance cameras."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has made it no secret that he would like more cameras in public spaces, including the subway system, bridges and tunnels and on city streets.
Bloomberg said he's not afraid to ride but cited a recent suicide bomb plot by a militant linked to al-Qaida as a reason New Yorkers must remain vigilant. Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in February to plotting to carry out a suicide bombing in the subways.
"The whole plan there was to build some bombs and blow up the subway," he said. "So, make no mistake about it, we have to work very hard to keep this subway system safe."