After Feuding With MTA Over Subway Safety, NYC Agrees To Add Volunteer Police Officers Underground


The NYPD introduced an settlement Friday to ship auxiliary cops to the 20 busiest subway stations, after weeks of the MTA and the town being at loggerheads over security and crime within the transit system. Auxiliary officers are “skilled to look at and report circumstances requiring the companies of the common police,” in keeping with the NYPD. They’re all volunteers.

The NYPD didn’t say what number of volunteers could be despatched, however added that the auxiliary officers could be deployed with a police officer. This transfer follows every week of horrific assaults on transit employees, through which one off-duty conductor was slashed with a field cutter, and one other knocked unconscious after confronting a rider smoking on a prepare.

“We all know our workers and clients agree: 87% of riders say that seeing a visual presence in our system is essential to them,” New York Metropolis Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg wrote in a press release.  

“The addition of those officers is an efficient step ahead – however make no mistake extra must be completed to make sure the system comes again, and in flip the town comes again,” Feinberg continued. “We all know that to ensure that an increasing number of individuals to return to mass transit they should really feel protected. That’s why we proceed to name on the town so as to add extra full-time cops and psychological well being assets to the subway system instantly.”

Feinberg introduced Thursday that she had simply employed a further 100 personal safety guards to patrol the subways, doubling the present quantity.

The MTA and metropolis have been providing totally different views of security within the subways. Even whereas the variety of crimes has fallen in some classes, the MTA insists there have been too many assaults on employees and clients, contemplating ridership is now decrease than it was earlier than the pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo added to the refrain, saying on Monday, “I’m not telling my youngster to trip the subway, as a result of I’m afraid for my youngster.” However the NYPD and Mayor Invoice de Blasio continued to insist the subways have by no means been safer.

Talking on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Present Friday, earlier than the NYPD’s announcement concerning the added auxiliary police, de Blasio didn’t decide to including extra assets. He additionally continued to insist the MTA has been enjoying political video games about security circumstances within the subways, and that the NYPD has a deal with on crime underground.

“It’s worry mongering, I’ve by no means seen something prefer it,” de Blasio stated, referring to MTA management. “Folks continuously saying it isn’t protected, when it’s.”

At a current MTA board assembly, the top of transit police nonetheless insisted the subways are the most secure they’ve ever been in historical past.

One riders advocacy group sounded skeptical about whether or not including auxiliary officers was the reply, given the present police drive and lack of different help.

“By settlement between the town and state courting again many years, there are literally thousands of armed, salaried NYPD officers within the subway immediately,” Danny Pearlstein, coverage and communications director with Riders’ Alliance, wrote in a press release. 

He stated unarmed volunteer police will “add extra eyes to the transit system.” However he stated, “Bettering security for transit employees and riders means protected staffing ranges, extra private protecting tools, and housing and psychological well being care options. Governor Cuomo, who controls the transit system, is liable for it and should cease his worry marketing campaign of undermining the town’s restoration by scaring individuals away from the subway we rely on.”

What The Information Say

The NYPD retains many statistics about crime within the subways, which inform a partial story about what’s occurring underground. However the MTA retains a special set of statistics, which presents one other story about what transit employees expertise on the rails. Neither are mutually unique, however when paired aspect by aspect they do present a sophisticated image.

In some crime classes, a really small change in numbers can result in a giant share enhance. As of Might 2nd, the NYPD reported 4 murders within the subways, in comparison with three throughout the identical interval in 2020. That’s a rise of 33%. And there have been 159 felony felony assaults for 2021, in comparison with 132 on the similar time final yr—a rise of 20%.

However general, the NYPD says main subway crime is down about half in comparison with 2020. The numbers appear to be pushed down primarily by the 62% lower in grand larceny, against the law extra simply carried out in massive crowds.

Nevertheless, the MTA and the Transport Employees Union say crime in opposition to subway employees is on the rise. The union says it is aware of of instances through which its members have been assaulted or harassed and both did not notify the police or didn’t file prices. The MTA and union proceed to insist that employees are being injured by unruly or mentally sick clients on a close to day by day foundation. 

Gothamist reviewed MTA incident studies, that are created at a central hub known as the Rail Management Middle, after receiving a grievance from a transit employee. Up to now this yr, there have been 94 studies of assaults on transit employees, in comparison with 60 throughout the identical interval final yr. 

The studies element many cases of violence and sexual assault in opposition to transit employees. A station agent on her lunch break at Canal Road was hit within the head by a bit of wooden from an unruly passenger. And a conductor reported a person pulled out his penis and touched her with it. There are a number of incidents of transit employees having bottles thrown at them. And spitting incidents are so quite a few, the MTA and union have been urging state lawmakers to extend the penalties, hoping which may assist drive the numbers down.

Whereas the MTA has been asking for extra cops to patrol the subways, the MTA’s chairman just lately went as far as to accuse Mayor de Blasio of “defunding the police.” 

Mayor de Blasio stated the five hundred extra officers despatched to patrol the subways in February are nonetheless deployed and haven’t been pulled again. 

He additionally stated the subways are protected. “My youngsters take the subway on a regular basis,” de Blasio stated Thursday. “If you happen to stated to one in every of my children, ‘oh, you should not go on the subway. It isn’t protected.’ They might snigger you out of the room, they’d inform you, you clearly could not be an actual New Yorker.”

Early Thursday morning, an off-duty MTA conductor was slashed within the neck and face with a field cutter and despatched to intensive care. Talking outdoors of Jamaica hospital later that day, the place the conductor was nonetheless being handled, MTA Chairman Pat Foye stated the incident simply underscores the necessity for extra safety.

“Folks have to be protected, and other people must really feel protected whereas driving subways, buses, commuter rails interval,” Foye stated. “Or they gained’t come again to transit, which suggests not coming again to New York Metropolis.”

The MTA will resume 24-hour subway service on Might seventeenth.