DENVER (CBS4) – RTD is enhancing security for travelers by adding high-definition cameras and a new app that will allow passengers and patrons to aid law enforcement.

“We’re evolving and taking it to the next level,” Bob Grado, a transit police commander and security manager, told CBS4.

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The old analog system relied mostly on cameras that produced grainy, low-definition black-and-white images. Augmented with full-color footage and high-tech servers, the new system will identify and nab criminals faster. More than 5,000 total cameras will add more eyes on the ground and inside and outside trains and buses. All new buses will be equipped with the new cameras.

“Having high-definition and the color pictures helps us identify a person’s clothing and then we get a more detailed picture of their face,” Grado said.

John Tarbert, the chief of police for RTD, says the new system is mostly a deterrent.

“If they can see that we can see them do something wrong, it makes them not want to do something wrong on our property,” he said.

RTD cameras have collared criminals in the past, of course, including the notable case of Earl Moore, who bombed Southwest Plaza Mall in Littleton in 2011. Law enforcement used RTD security footage to identify him and tie him to the bombing.

Security footage shows Earl Moore on RTD transit. (credit: RTD)

Security footage shows Earl Moore on RTD transit. (credit: RTD)

Better technology can only improve the chances of catching, or preventing, people like Moore, RTD said.

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“We can see a lot more detail,” Tarbert said. “And if a crime did occur and the suspect gets away, we have a very clear picture to disseminate to the other law enforcement agencies in the district, and we can find the bad guy.”

The security app will let riders send photos and audio, chat with security, and use GPS to pinpoint location. The app, called RTD Transit Watch, is in development.

“It allows our passengers to take personal responsibility for their safety and others around them as well,” Grado said. “It’s one step below 911. It’s ‘I’m nervous or I just want to talk to somebody about something.’ That’s what the app will be used for.”

But he cautions the app, which triggers an alert to RTD’s security command center, is not a 911 substitute.

A man kicking RTD property is caught on surveillance footage. (credit: RTD)

A man kicking RTD property is caught on surveillance footage. (credit: RTD)

RTD’s security system will also:

– Cut down frivolous or fraudulent claims against RTD by identifying which passengers were really on a bus or train that was involved in an accident. “Folks will say they were on that vehicle when they really weren’t,” Grado said. “Occasionally we’ll have a minor incident and some folks will turn that in as a larger incident and (this system) helps us identify the issue.”

– Combat graffiti more efficiently.  “It gives us the ability to try to catch the people but, secondly, we can document that particular tag. We turn that over to the local gang and graffiti unit. And they can try to identify that tag and tie that into similar cases.” More cameras targeted on graffiti-prone areas help get vandalism spotted quicker and leading to a faster removal by crews.

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