SPECIAL REPORT | NYPD turns up the heat in subway stations as they cuff criminals underground

NYPD officers arrest suspect for fare evasion
The NYPD are turning up the heat in the subway system as they look to apprehend dangerous fare evaders bringing weapons on their commute.
Photo by Dean Moses

With subway crime dominating the headlines in recent weeks, the NYPD is stepping up its efforts to bust dangerous fare evaders caught bringing weapons along with them for the ride.

The NYPD say they have been strategically removing violent offenders below the streets through specialized and tactical actions. amNewYork Metro followed cops in Brooklyn over the weekend as they cuffed people who they charged should not be in the subway. The effort comes days after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced plans to further beef up enforcement in the subways with the addition of MTA Police officers and even National Guard members to assist the NYPD on its rounds.

“Anybody who’s been paying attention to the news has heard about an influx of NYPD officers into the subway system, this is just one more step to that. On a daily basis we have our Transit Bureau Response Team which addresses quality of life conditions within all of the system, and today our partners from the Patrol Services Bureau are coming down to help us address these conditions,” Transit Bureau Chief Timothy Skretch said.

Chief Timothy Skretch, Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry brief their team.Photo by Dean Moses
A turnstile hoppers receives a ticket.Photo by Dean Moses
A man is swiftly stopped by police for jumping a turnstile.Photo by Dean Moses

While most of the reinforcements sent by the governor are designed to focus on bag checks, the NYPD maintains that a major part of its crime focus underground remains fare evasion — something which is seen by some as a victimless crime.

But according to police brass, too many of those who have been caught turnstile jumping or rushing through the emergency gates have been connected to violent offenses or pickpocketing of unsuspecting riders — or have warrants out for their arrest for past crimes.

Led by Chief Skretch, Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry, and Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Tarik Sheppard, the coalition of cops were placed just out of sight at turnstiles throughout Brooklyn.

Although recent statistics show that crime underground has been fluctuating up and down over the last several months, Daughtry told amNewYork Metro that he believes the public is less interested in hearing about data and is more concerned about seeing the NYPD in action — leading to even more increased visibility.

“People don’t want to hear about numbers, they want to see the police. They want to know that their cops are working at the station, doing an operation like this to catch the bad people coming into the system,” Commissioner Daughtry said. “Through avoiding payment of the fare we have caught murders, we have caught people wanted for shootings, robberies, homicides. And we also caught them with guns, knives, and drugs.”

A man is apprehended after being found with a box cutter and pepper spray.Photo by Dean Moses
An officer retrieves pepper spray.Photo by Dean Moses
A man is cuffed after he is found to have an outstanding warrant.Photo by Dean Moses

Lying in wait, uniformed and plain clothed officers pounced anytime a person decided to skip payment. While some were let off with a warning and asked to leave the station and others were issued a ticket for avoiding $2.90 fare, many more were led away in cuffs. Police said these individuals harbored box cutters, pepper spray, tasers, and more.

As Daughtry predicted, several individuals who decided to slip in through emergency doors and were stopped were also found to have open arrest warrants — including one dating back to November for a robbery charge.

For Shepard, operations like these achieve two goals: they take dangerous individuals out of the subways while also reinforcing a message that refusal to pay the fare is breaking the law.

“They just see people constantly going through the emergency gate, people constantly hopping the train, people constantly not paying attention to any laws, it feeds into others wanting to do the same thing,” Shepard said. “Just being down here, not sure whether or not you are standing next to a cop can ultimately make the system safer.”

A group of young women are arrested, one of whom is found with a taser.Photo by Dean Moses
A group of young women are arrested, one of whom is found with a taser.Photo by Dean Moses
A group of young women are arrested, one of whom is found with a taser.Photo by Dean Moses

Through these continued operations, police say they hope to both make the subways safer and change the mindset behind turnstile hoping.

A group of young women are arrested, one of whom is found with a taser.Photo by Dean MosesPhoto by Dean Moses
A man is taken into custody after being found to have a warrant for a robbery from November.Photo by Dean Moses
A another man is given a ticket.Photo by Dean Moses
This man admitted to being able to afford the fare but choose not to pay anyway.Photo by Dean Moses