New York City plans to increase police presence on the subway system as part of efforts to combat transit crime



CNN

New York state and city officials are stepping up efforts to combat crime and mental illness by increasing the presence of police in the New York subway system and with new training for officers to deal with the homeless.

Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke at a news conference Saturday about plans to increase subway security, along with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Metropolitan Transportation Authority President and CEO Janno Lieber.

In recent weeks, Rep. Hochul Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, has addressed the issue of public safety. The government elections are just over two weeks away, on November 8.

The new initiatives will include a significant investment from the state’s public emergency fund to add 1,200 additional overtime officer shifts on subway platforms and trains each day. However, the officials did not say how much money the municipality will receive as part of the investment.

The transit authority will also hire unarmed security guards to increase the security presence at the turnstiles and prevent fare evasion, Hochul said.

“We have a strategy to fight crime,” Hochule said at the press conference. “We’ve leaned on proven law enforcement strategies, investing in new technologies that will make a difference. And we’re giving New Yorkers the help and support they need. Here’s what we call it: ‘Police, cameras, surveillance’. ”

Transit cops will be deployed at four major commuter rail hubs, including Penn Station, Grand Central Station, Atlantic Terminal and Sutphin-Archer (Jamaica) Station, which will free up about 100 NYPD officers to deploy to other transit locations, according to the release. joint news

New York City has faced a spate of high-profile violent crimes in recent months, including on its subway system, prompting officials to improve their crime-fighting strategies. Adams announced Friday that his administration will hold a “high-level meeting” at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the New York mayor, on Saturday and Sunday to discuss solutions to crime in the city.

“New Yorkers need to be able to ride the subway system with confidence that they are safe from crime, harassment and threats and that’s what we’re all about,” Adams said at the press conference.

In September, Hochul announced an initiative to install two cameras in every subway car by 2024 to strengthen security coverage. The municipality has already installed more than 200 cameras in the system and will install 100 more cameras in the coming days, the governor said.

The governor said Saturday train conductors will notify drivers when they approach a station where officers are present.

Earlier this year, Adams and Hochul unveiled a joint initiative to fight crime and address homelessness in the subway system that will deploy response teams of health, police and community officials across the city.

As part of ongoing efforts to address the homeless population sheltering the metro system, the New York State Office of Mental Health will open two new 25-bed units by Nov. 1 as part of a new treatment program to help people with severe mental health issues. problems, said the officials.

The units will provide recovery-oriented treatment and be staffed by doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and other clinical and clinical staff, according to the joint news release.

The initiative includes the Office of Mental Health creating a Community Residential Childbirth Program, which will support people being discharged from units as they transition back into society.

“The omnipresence of the police and the removal of those dealing with mental health issues is critical to the second phase of our important plan,” Adams said at the news conference.

The state is also expanding crisis intervention training for transit and city police as well as paramedics to include best practices for engaging homeless people and how to transport those who need a psychiatric evaluation.

“This training will include best practices for engaging the street and metro homeless population, giving officers a better understanding of the issues they are facing and how to address them so they can ensure people get the help they need,” Hochul. he said at the press conference.

As of last Monday, crime on the city’s subway system is up more than 41 percent this year with 1,813 incidents, up from 1,282 at the same time last year, according to New York Police Department statistics.

There have been nine homicides on the city’s subway system this year, officials said, and 40 percent of those responsible for the homicides had a history of mental health issues.

“This is our focus. Dealing with people with mental health issues has to be at the heart of any plan going forward,” Adams said.

Although these numbers are high, they are compared to 2021 and 2020, when the pandemic reduced subway ridership, which forced the majority of subway riders to stay at home.

Metro cycling has been a major component in the analysis of metro crime. Since the pandemic, cycling has experienced a dramatic decline, but is steadily growing.

Metro passengers have reached their highest levels since the pandemic, with an average of more than 3.5 million Spanish riders on a weekday and 3.6 million to 3.8 million riders in recent weeks. That’s roughly 70 percent of the 5.5 million ridership average before the pandemic hit, according to transit authority statistics.

In 2019, before Covid-19 took hold of the city, there were 1,893 crimes from January 1 to October, and 2,524 crimes throughout the year, according to police statistics.

The highest number of transient crimes since police began tracking crime statistics was recorded in 1999, with a total of 3,524 crimes from January to October, city data show.

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the New York Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the largest number of officers in the country, said the plan announced Saturday by Hochul and Adams is “unsustainable.”

Lynch said the police department is 1,000 more officers than budgeted and has 12.45 percent fewer officers permanently assigned to metros than in 2020.

“The increased workload is crushing the remaining police officers,” his statement continued. “The answer is not to squeeze for more forced OT. It’s not about passing the buck to the better-paid but smaller MTA Police Department. And they are certainly not to be replaced by unarmed security guards.’

Lynch said the city needs to increase pay and improve working conditions to hire and retain enough police officers to fight crime in the metro system.