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Transit union stands alongside mayoral candidate Adams in seeking more safety in subways

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (left, TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano (center) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on May 10, 2021.
Photo by Mark Hallum

A “roundhouse” punch to the head in a robbery between a man and a female victim on Sunday at the First Avenue station on the L train in the East Village on Sunday sparked a call by mayoral hopeful Eric Adams to expand on his plan to combat crime and chaos.

Monday morning, Adams stood alongside Transport Workers Union Local 100 and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez in announcing that, if elected, he would deploy social workers into the transit system and surge NYPD into stations and trains.

Sunday’s robbery — combined with Saturday’s shooting in Times Square and two recent attacks on subway workers in Brooklyn and the Bronx — has left Adams feeling motivated to maintain safety in a city that seems to be experiencing an increase in felony crimes.

“We have reached a point of being dysfunctional and that’s not acceptable. For our [city] to recover, to move forward, we cannot continue to be derailed by the dangerous and violent behavior in our city. Public safety and justice are a prerequisite to justice and prosperity, and we will never surrender that,” Adams said. “In order to turn this city around, we must have intervention and prevention.”

Adams and fellow frontrunner in the race, Andrew Yang, held press conferences on Sunday in Times Square talking about their plans to bring order to the city. Both involved a plainclothes NYPD unit that would take guns off the street while preventing them from entering from other states through the transit networks of the northeast to begin with.

According to Adams, there are key differences between his and Yang’s proposal in that his places emphasis on mental health services and greater coordination between different law enforcement agencies.

Adams says his approach is more “holistic” that collaborates with Port Authority police and partners with the federal government.

“We must deploy teams of trained mental health professionals to conduct routine inspections and collaborate with the police and transit employees to identify those who are entering our system with real health services in crisis,” Adams said. “We must ensure greater coordination between transit police and street patrol, that lack of coordination impacts the right deployment.”

TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio for supposedly not taking safety in the transit system seriously enough in the last week, sparked mainly from comments during his daily press briefings that his daughters would laugh at anyone who claimed the subway is not safe.

“We have a mayor right now that’s making video saying that the subway safe. But yeah, last night we had a stabbing at Chambers Street. We had a slashing at 116th Street. We had a spit – our employee was spit on at Willets Point, but yet he says it’s safe,” Utano said. “The city is in chaos right now, and it needs to be fixed.”

On Monday, the mayor surmised that the latest crime wave is nothing but a side effect to the COVID-19 pandemic — and, once the economy recovers, so will the problems surrounding gun violence.

“We got to understand there are some individuals who do the wrong thing. And there’s still too many guns available to too many people and that needs policing solutions and community solutions, but also needs a change in Washington. We need better laws to stop the flow of guns in this country,” de Blasio said. “But overall, there’s no question in my mind – we saw how well we did for years and years getting violence down, working with communities. A lot of that got disrupted by global pandemic. The answer is, bring back jobs, bring back activities, and keep refining our policing strategies. There’s no question in my mind, as the city comes back, that’s going to help us to reduce crime and violence.”

Nonetheless, de Blasio committed to assigning more cops in the Times Square area.

Meanwhile, Yang’s team was critical of Adams’ plan.

“Shootings in Brooklyn under Eric Adams have more than doubled from 9 victims in 2013 to 21 in just the first 5 months of this year already,” according to a campaign statement. “He’s had 15 years in office to lead on crime and public safety and has nothing to show for it. Andrew has been talking about crime and focused on New Yorkers’ safety from day one.”

Adams has been Brooklyn borough president since 2014; traditionally, borough presidents do not have particular oversight on law enforcement.

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