MTA board member wants a special prosecutor for subway crimes
An MTA board member thinks the city should have a separate prosecutor handling crimes that take place on the subway.
Responding to an increase in underground crime this year, some of which is being blamed on repeat offenders, board member Charles Moerdler said Gov. Andrew Cuomo should appoint a special prosecutor to oversee all cases against alleged subway criminals. He suggested the city try it for a year.
Currently, district attorneys handle subway crime cases in each borough.
Moerdler said the special prosecutor could “make it clear to those people who like to engage in that that crime does not necessarily have to pay.”
A spokesman for the governor did not comment on the suggestion Monday.
MTA head Joseph Lhota said he has spoken with all five district attorneys and planned to meet with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Wednesday to discuss “how to jointly work with the district attorneys on this issue.” He didn’t offer any specifics about their planned conversation.
At Monday’s transit committee meeting, NYPD transit bureau chief Joseph Fox said nearly 40 criminals prosecuted this year have parole conditions that limit or prevent them from using the subway. Two people who violated the conditions were returned to jail, he said.
Fox added that although subway crime year-to-date is more than 20% higher this year than in 2011, there was a decrease in major felonies last month.
He said the decrease — there were three fewer major felonies in March — was “a promising indicator that our enforcement effort strategies are yielding positive results.”
Fox said another sign of a decrease in subway crime was that fewer electronic devices were being stolen from straphangers. While more than 62% of grand larcenies in January involved electronics, less than half of all grand larcenies last month were of smartphones and e-readers. Fox noted, however, that thefts of property from sleeping riders have nearly doubled since January.