ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque has now flipped the switch on giving the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) instant, live video access to security cameras on the city’s fleet of 245 buses. It’s the first time police inside APD’s Real Time Crime Center have had live access to video feeds on buses, years after the system became available exclusively to the transit department.

More than 1,000 cameras are now accessible to APD. Those include both inward-facing cameras viewing passengers on board city buses and outward-facing cameras on the exterior of the buses.

At a news conference announcing the initiative Monday, Mayor Tim Keller said the new connection helps eliminate some of the gap between police and transit during emergency incidents. In the past, only workers at the transit department had access to the live bus video feeds, meaning when an emergency occurred, they had to describe the situations to police dispatch through their words alone.

Today, while bus drivers will still need to call security when a problem occurs, Keller hopes the newly accessible video connection will better allow trained police employees and officers to get their eyes on a live video feed of a critical incident much faster. Those same Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) workers will then be able to update police dispatchers on an unfolding incident.

“Yes, of course, the transit department [historical] talked to APD and talked to security all the time, but they always had to do it over the radio,” Keller said. “And so now they’re going to literally be able to see the same thing, then they’ll use the radio to communicate with each other.”

The RTCC is a roughly ten-year-old initiative of the department, which lets officers scan various surveillance cameras throughout the city. Currently, APD has access to cameras across schools, private businesses, intersections, and more. Mayor Tim Keller said over the last several years; the city has invested more than $50 million in public safety upgrades that, in part, benefit the RTCC.

“The reality is, when [my mayoral administration] came in, for the most part, it just wasn’t real-time,” Keller said. “It was a series of cameras and review mechanisms that looked after events and reviewed things.”

Along with connecting the bus system’s cameras to APD’s live video feeds inside the RTCC, Mayor Keller said Monday the city had connected its downtown Convention Center security cameras and a series of Albuquerque Public Schools. Soon, the city says it will have live video feed access to solid waste vehicles driving through neighborhoods.

The new initiative comes after a recent KRQE News 13 investigation, highlighting an increase in violent incidents reported on buses. Since that report, Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Peña has proposed a resolution that could create a new transit security response plan.