Expect more cops at subway stations going forward. On Saturday, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams announced expanded initiatives to address the increase of transit-related crime as recent stabbings and assaults crowd up the NYC newscycle like commuters on a downtown express train during rush hour.
“We have a crime-fighting strategy,” said Hochul during the press conference. “We’ve leaned into proven law enforcement strategies, investing in new technologies, it’ll make a difference. And we’re providing New Yorkers the support and the help they need.
“Here’s what we’re calling it: ‘cops, cameras, care,’ it’s easy to remember the three C’s.”
Last month, Hochul announced the installment of cameras on every MTA train car. As for care, she announced the Office of Mental Health’s “Transition to Home Units,” which will help those experiencing homelessness with serious mental illness (including those living in the subway) find treatment. And cops are of course involved, even if they’re not fans. Around 1,200 NYPD overtime shifts will go towards an increased presence at train platforms. The Police Benevolent Association opposed the move, calling it “unsustainable” in a statement.
“We have 12.45% fewer rank-and-file cops permanently assigned to the subways than we did in 2020,” said the union’s president Pat Lynch. “The increased workload is crushing the cops who remain. The answer is not to squeeze them for more forced OT.”
According to an August report by state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City uniformed agency overtime spending, which includes the NYPD, is estimated to hit an all-time high this fiscal year.
The month kicked off with three fatal stabbings on New York City transit, including two on the subway. This past Sunday, a 14-year-old girl was stabbed on the 1 train in Washington Heights. Last Wednesday, a 26-year-old man was also stabbed on the 2 train in the Upper Westside. Both victims survived.
But the violence isn’t limited to blades. Last Monday, a 48-year-old father was hit by a train after he was allegedly pushed onto the tracks during an argument in Jackson Heights. On Oct. 14, a 15-year-old boy was shot dead on the A train in Far Rockaway. And on a related note, a 20-year-old man was dragged to death by a train in the Upper Westside this past Monday, although no foul play is suspected at this time.
The unfortunate chaos is bringing the best out of some New Yorkers. Good Samaritans intervened in several of the aforementioned incidents. Bystanders pulled a 62-year-old man from the subway trackbed this past Monday after he was knocked down by an attacker, reported the NY Daily News. A 25-year-old man was similarly rescued on Oct. 6 in Union Square, reported the New York Post.
As of Oct. 16, Transit Bureau index crime stats are up across the board compared to 2021. There are two more murders, five more rapes and 61 more felony assaults. In total, index crimes are up by almost a third from last year, with over 300 more grand larcenies in 2022.
“On October 19, 2022, the NYPD performed 3,369 station inspections and 1,675 train runs and train inspections system wide,” said an NYPD spokesperson. “The added numbers of station inspections and train runs create an omnipresence that riders, at all hours, can see and feel as they make their way to school, work, or home.”
Other measures were announced, including enhanced training for police and first responders from the Office of Mental Health. Conductors will now also announce police presence on trains.
At the ABCD subway station on Harlem’s 125th Street/St. Nicholas Avenue—where a non-fatal stabbing occurred earlier this month—an increased police presence was noticeable this past Monday. Commuters kept to themselves and largely away from the tracks. Most said they were ambivalent or unaware about the recent surge in subway violence.
“I think it’s just [bad days]—wrong moment, wrong place,” said one rider. “Everybody [looks after] each other in New York City. So if I see anything that was happening to you, automatically, I will look up, look out for you.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1