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Congress presses MTA on camera malfunctions during Brooklyn subway shooting

A group of Congress members, including three from New York City, pressed the MTA for answers in a blistering letter Wednesday about why the cameras were malfunctioning during last week’s horrific subway attack in Sunset Park — especially when the agency has millions in federal dollars for security.

When accused gunman Frank James opened fire on a crowded N train on April 12, wounding 29 people, including 10 who were shot, malfunctioning surveillance cameras at the 36th Street station hindered cops’ manhunt, sources told The Post.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber blamed bad “internet connection” for the delayed retrieval of surveillance footage and said the media was wrong to focus on the faulty camera systems.

Reps. Ritchie Torres, Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries all signed the letter, along with 10 other members of Congress, addressed to Lieber.

“As you are aware, Congress increased the Transit Security Grant Program [TSGP] funding by $5 million to $93 million in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus spending package,” the letter exclusively obtained by The Post said, adding the grant program provided the city’s public transportation system “almost $50 million” in 2020 and 2021.

“How has the MTA utilized TSGP funding historically, and particularly over the last two fiscal years?” the letter asked. “How much TSGP funding has been specifically allocated for the MTA’s camera system, including maintenance of the system, installation of cameras and updating the cameras?”

Rep. Yvette Clarke also supported a letter urging the MTA to protect the “lifeblood of New York City,” from attacks.
William Farrington

The letter also asked how often the cameras are audited by the MTA or a third-party, and what sort of timeline the agency has to address identified problems.

“With an average of over 2 million daily riders, the subway system is the lifeblood of New York City. Although the suspect responsible for this attack has been arrested, it is imperative that we have systems in place to keep riders safe and ensure attacks like this never happen again,” the pols wrote.

Transit officials boasted last year that the MTA has cams in every station, but many stations, including the 36th Street station where the attack occurred, don’t have cameras pointed at platforms.

A train 207th Street Station, Camera near turnstiles NY, NY
The MTA has been criticized for allowing broken surveillance cameras to operate.
J.C. Rice

Last week’s tragedy wasn’t the only time MTA cameras failed victims. Chris Anguisaca, who was stabbed in the eye on an A train on Feb. 14, said cops told him subway cameras don’t work north of 190th Street — which the MTA has since denied.

Anguisaca, 19, said the suspect fled when the A train pulled into the Dyckman Street station.

“There should be cameras, especially in the train station,” he said.

Congressman Ritchie Torres
Rep. Ritchie Torres was among those who signed a letter demanding answers from the MTA.
Lev Radin/Sipa USA

Rebecca Lamorte, 30, told The Post that she’s been attacked on the subway twice and told both times the cameras weren’t working.

The pols made their message to Lieber clear: “Given the disturbing and continued rise of subway attacks this year, we write to urge you to be more transparent regarding how your agency utilizes Federal funding to secure the subway system and protect riders.”

File source

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