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The National Guard will now guard the New York subway: the police are unable to cope with crime in the subway


Alina Prikhodko

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Amid a surge in crime across New York State, the administration is announcing a new subway safety initiative. According to NBC New York, state authorities will activate the National Guard.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced her new plan with MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber at NYC Transit's Rail Operations Center. The plan aims to use state resources to improve subway safety.

Among the changes:

  • bringing in state troopers to assist with NYPD bag checks;
  • passing a bill allowing judges to bar more violent offenders from accessing the system;
  • installation of new cameras in conductor cabins;
  • strengthening coordination between the prosecutor's office and law enforcement agencies;
  • Deployment of additional community outreach teams alongside existing Safe Options Support (SOS) teams.

The increase in state personnel includes 750 National Guard troops, 250 MTA and State Police personnel for a total of 1000 personnel. The idea, Hochul said, is to make people feel safe.

Additional passenger checks

The NYPD has long conducted random bag checks at subway entrances, although riders can refuse and leave the station. That raises questions about how effective screening tactics are on the subway system, which serves more than three million passengers a day.

Adams announced enhanced bag checks at some subway stations. He did not say which stations would have increased security, but according to the mayor's office, police intend to send 94 bag-check teams to 136 subway stations every week.

On the subject: New hare-proof turnstiles in the New York subway can be hacked with a flick of the wrist: MTA paid $700 for them

Some began checking bags on Wednesday, March 6, at major transit hubs, including Grand Central, and the full rollout is likely to be completed by the end of the week, officials said. NYPD checkpoint locations will be determined based on intelligence, threat assessments and passenger volume, the mayor's office said. Adams said the city is continuing to explore metal detector technology for subway entrances, but nothing is in sight yet.

A disturbing picture

Overall, crime in New York City is down after a spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, and homicides on the subway have dropped. However, rare cases of shootings and fatal stampedes in the subway make citizens nervous. There have been several high-profile incidents of subway violence in New York recently, resulting in... perished and some of its residents were injured.

Last week, a C train driver was stabbed in the neck at the Rockaway Avenue station in Brooklyn. A young man was shot in the arm in Manhattan and a 61-year-old man was stabbed in the stomach in the Bronx - three unrelated incidents of subway violence within 36 hours. A man was thrown onto the tracks at Penn Station this week. Another passenger was attacked with a hammer at a Queens station, and another was attacked with an umbrella on the Upper East Side.

About an hour after Hochul's press conference ended, an MTA employee was hit in the head, possibly with a bottle, as the southbound 4 train approached 149th Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. The conductor was taken to Lincoln Hospital with minor injuries, and the suspect fled.

The latest NYPD data shows a troubling picture: 2023 marked the highest number of subway assaults since 1996. During this time, 570 attacks occurred.

Progress is evident

But NYPD Transit Chief Michael Kemper says progress is being made. The 1000-person increase in the subway's workforce was a direct response to the January spike in crime, Kemper said. This led to a 17% drop in crime in February.

Crime spikes after city ends program overtime police in the metro at the end of 2023.

Mayor Adams asked the governor for money to cover these expenses, to which Hochul replied that the city had recovered from its dire financial situation.

“The mayor has a lot of requests to make to the state legislature. Many, many requests. And I’m glad to see that their surplus and finances look better than before,” Hokul concluded.

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