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NYC will trial AI-enabled gun detectors in subways


Mayor Eric Adams announced a pilot program to deter violence, with plans to evaluate scanners at some stations.


In an attempt to reduce the perception of danger and discourage acts of violence in the subterranean system, authorities in New York City announced on Thursday a trial program to install portable weapons scanners throughout the system.


Mayor Eric Adams said that the scanners would be installed at selected stations after a 90-day waiting period as required by law.


As part of his announcement, Adams stated, "Keeping New Yorkers safe on the subway and maintaining confidence in the system is key to ensuring that New York remains the safest big city in America." He also revealed plans to send more outreach workers into subway stations to assist those struggling with mental health issues and help them get into treatment.


After a while, the scanners will be installed in some subway stations "where the NYPD will be able to further evaluate the equipment's effectiveness," according to Adams, who stated that authorities will seek out businesses with knowledge of weapons-detection technology.


Evolv, a publicly listed corporation that has been accused of manipulating software testing results to make its scanners seem more successful than they really are, supplied the scanner that Adams and police officials showcased at Thursday's press conference at a lower Manhattan station. The United States' primary banking regulator and trade regulator are also investigating the business.

The business says its AI-enabled scanners can use "safe, ultra-low frequency, electromagnetic fields, and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons."


"We have written the signatures for all the threats that are out there: all the guns that exist, all the bombs, all the large tactical knives," Evolv CEO Peter George has previously said.


A member of the Legal Aid Society's digital forensics team, Jerome Greco, has said that false alerts caused by gun-detection systems may lead to widespread fear.


"The unwavering faith in technology to solve public safety issues is ill-advised, expensive, and leads to substantial privacy breaches," said Greco in a press statement. Adams said that the municipality will independently evaluate the scanners' precision.


Adams, a retired transit police officer, said that "people may have had bad experiences with this technology." As far as we were expecting, what we saw is exactly what we got. "Hey, is it meeting our expectations?" we will ask after doing some analysis.


Officials from the city did not specify where the scanners will be placed. After a short pause, the gadget they showed off at the Fulton Street station beeped whenever a police officer with a holstered weapon walked by. However, it remained quiet whenever cops with smartphones or other electronic devices did the same.


There have been two high-profile shootings in the city's underground system, which carries over 3 million passengers daily, although violent crimes are uncommon there. During an altercation with another passenger earlier in March, a guy was seriously injured after being shot with his pistol. A battle broke out aboard a rush-hour tube vehicle last month, leading to one death and other injuries.


Police reported five homicides in the system in 2017, a decrease from 10 the previous year. Three killings marked the first two months of 2024.


A deadly push at an East Harlem subway station on Monday brought the topic of subway safety back to the forefront, prompting the scanner announcement only days later.


Also on Monday, the city of New York announced plans to increase the number of police officers patrolling the tube by 800 to reduce instances of fee evasion.


According to Janno Lieber, chair and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, who spoke at a board meeting on Wednesday, the NYPD had confiscated 17 firearms from individuals detained in the system this year before the most recent rise.

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