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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Announces Metal Detectors for Metro in the Wake of Recent Violence

Published: April 18, 2022
People walk by a subway stop in a busy midtown Manhattan on April 13, 2022 in New York City. Frank James, the suspected gunman in Tuesday's shooting in Brooklyn, was arrested this afternoon. James is alleged to have shot 10 people, critically injuring five, on the N train during Tuesday's morning rush hour. The violence has prompted New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, to move forward with installing metal detectors in the City’s subway system. (Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In the shadow of a mass shooting that saw 13 people injured and 10 shot, five critically, on board a Manhattan-bound N train in Sunset Park, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that he is considering three types of metal detectors to be installed in the City’s subway system in an attempt to bolster safety. 

At a news conference — his first since exiting COVID-19 isolation — Adams supplied little detail about costs, who would monitor the detectors and where the systems will be installed, saying that he delegated the task of researching these details to Phil Banks, the City’s deputy mayor for public safety.  

He did say however, “We’re looking at three devices. We haven’t narrowed in on just one yet. Once we know we’ll make that announcement,” according to the Gothamist

The Gothamist has successfully identified at least one company that is under consideration to supply the technology. The Mayor’s office confirmed with the outlet last week that Massachusetts-based Evolv Technology was being considered as a possible vendor. 

“The company has developed an advanced detector capable of determining the density and shape alongside its metal composition, allowing their scanners to distinguish guns and bombs from some everyday objects like cellphones,” the Gothamist reported. 

Once an item is detected, the technology takes a photo of the individual in question and then attempts to identify where they’re carrying the object. A security officer would then use those images to identify the carrier of a firearm or other potentially threatening object. 

Adam’s said at the news conference, “New Yorkers are going to feel safe knowing that when they swipe their MetroCards that we’re doing some type of check to make sure people are not carrying weapons on our system.”

New York institutions have a history of working with Evolv Technology. The company’s detectors are installed and working at the Lincoln Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the American Museum of Natural History. The technology is also installed at the Museum of Modern Art where last month two employees were allegedly stabbed by 60-year-old Gary Cabana, who leapt over the museum counter, cornered the employees and stabbed them while they tried to escape.  

Metal detectors in New York’s subway system is not a new concept. The city ran a pilot project in 2018 that saw the NYPD install a metal detector at the Port Authority in order to combat terror attacks. 

When the pilot project was underway, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said the metal detectors only “impart an illusion of safety and security at the very high cost of freedom.” Lieberman also told the Gothamist that even advanced detectors would fail to address the primary issues behind crime, such as access to social services, mental health and the economy. 

Other American cities have implemented solutions in their mass transit systems in order to combat violence. In 2018, the Los Angeles rail system deployed portable body scanners that were also developed by Evolv Technology and a year later Washington D.C.’s subway system implemented a similar pilot program.