New York to test gun-detection systems for city’s subway

By Thomson Reuters Mar 28, 2024 | 5:18 PM

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City will begin testing gun-detecting technology in a pilot program at several subway stations, Mayor Eric Adams said on Thursday.

The announcement comes after several shootings on the subway system, one of the biggest and busiest in the world, including an argument on a train in March that ended with a man being shot in the head with his own gun.

After a 90-day notice period under city law for new surveillance technology, the New York Police Department will begin testing portable scanning machines at several stations, though Adams did not say which ones.

In Thursday’s event at the Fulton Street subway station in lower Manhattan, Adams showed a scanner made by Evolv, a Massachusetts company that makes security technology.

“Today’s announcement is the next step in our ongoing efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of our transit system and to provide greater mental health services for New Yorkers in crisis,” said Adams, a Democrat who used to patrol the subway as a police officer.

The Legal Aid Society, which defends the rights of New Yorkers who cannot afford lawyers, called the plan misguided and an invasion of New Yorkers’ privacy.

“Simply put, gun detection systems are flawed and frequently trigger false alarms, which induces panic and creates situations that could result in the loss of life,” Jerome Greco, an attorney in Legal Aid’s Digital Forensics Unit, said in a statement. “New York City should not serve as a testing ground for surveillance corporations.”

New York state banned people from having guns in what it designates as “sensitive locations,” including public transportation, in 2022. The law is being challenged by gun owners’ rights groups, which say it conflicts with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier in 2022 that found people have a constitutional right to carry weapons in public.

Nearly 4 million trips are made on the city’s subway on a typical weekday, and crime remains relatively rare: The city said felony crimes, such as thefts and assaults, were down 15% in March compared with the same month last year.

Police have seized 19 guns from people in the transit system so far this year, compared with nine guns in the same period in 2023.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis)