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New Cameras Coming To DART Trains

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DALLAS (CBS11) - Say "cheese" when you board a DART train this summer. The transit agency is adding cameras, with some controversial new technology to follow.

Starting this summer, the transit agency will begin installing cameras inside its 163 trains.

"The camera actually is a manpower modifier," says DART Police Chief James Spiller. "It enhances our manpower. We can't be everywhere."

After a year of high-profile DART crimes, including a stabbing and a sexual assault, it's meant to be a crime deterrent.

DART plans to add facial recognition software. It can cross-reference images of wanted riders with the DART database.

"For those people where we have video shots where they have done something wrong, violated our code of conduct or conducted some type of criminal activity, it will allow us to have a picture of them," says Chief Spiller.

DART riders we spoke to had mixed feelings about the technology.

"I think it's really cool," says Sarah White. "I think it'll make people think twice about wanting to do anything on there."

"I think using technology to keep people safe is a good idea. It's just I'm not sure about the privacy thing, though," says Mark Peckinpaugh.

Former U.S. Attorney Richard Roper says that's a legitimate concern.

"What is that information being harvested for and where's that information going? Along with, what is the information that they're using to populate the database that they compare?" he asks.

Chief Spiller says they will not keep the images and will only compare to their database. He thinks it will be an exciting and effective use of technology.

"We're hoping to change behavior," he says.

DART will pay $4.8 million for the cameras. They don't yet have the funding for the facial recognition software but plan to have it installed by 2018.

ACLU Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley issued a statement to CBS 11 about the facial recognition technology:

"The use of facial recognition technology for general surveillance is inappropriate and invasive, and we should not go down that road. It will turn the surveillance cameras that already record many public locations into intelligent 'watchers' monitoring where we are, when, and who we're with. That is a lot of centralized power to give the authorities, and ultimately, such widespread surveillance will not only lead to abuses but will change the character, feel, and quality of American life."

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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