More cops on subways a ‘difference-maker’ in keeping trains safe, de Blasio says

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Officers check each train car for about 30 to 60 seconds to ensure everyone is safe.
Photo by Dean Moses

Responding to a police surge in the subways after multiple stabbings that left two victims dead on the A line over the weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does support the MTA’s call for more cops in the subways.

MTA officials, after adding 500 cops to the roster, also called for 1,000 more cops to crack down on violent crime in the subways. 

“We have kept numbers strong in the subways, very similar to what I’ve received when I took over for Mayor Bloomberg. We’re adding 500 more now, so about 2,500 cops in the subways previously and 500 now. That’s an immediate deployment. I feel very confident that the NYPD believes this will be the difference maker,” said de Blasio in his daily briefing Tuesday, Feb. 16.

De Blasio said that the stabbings are horrible, but crime has gone down overall for the past few decades.

“I’ve been riding the subway my whole life,” said de Blasio, “and I have a particular perspective many New Yorkers who have been here a long time have, when the subways were a pervasive problem in every way in terms of safety and everything else.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, the numbers for incidents were incredibly low and last year was indeed a “major disruption.”

He said crime has declined statistically last month, closer to pre-COVID numbers, and he is seeing “tremendous efforts from the NYPD in gun arrests” and “very aggressive efforts” to continue that trend.

The year-to-date rates show that citywide crimes are down, with the exception of murder, grand theft auto, and shooting victims, according to Compstat stats.

“I think this is the right way to proceed,” said de Blasio about the additional officers.

De Blasio also commented that certain calls in the subway, particularly relating to a mental health situation or a homeless person, are much better handled by an EMS worker, social worker, or trained professional rather than the NYPD. 

He said that approach will be implemented in the coming weeks in many precincts and they are working to finalize the plans now. 

“That will also free up police officers to focus on other issues where there is a possibility of violence. We know the vast majority of calls we get related to mental health have nothing to do with violence, and we’ll have the right professionals to handle those calls,” said de Blasio.

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