After Mayor Bill de Blasio relented to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s persistent request for an increased NYPD presence in the subways, agency officials say they want reinforcement that the officers will remain there as the city recovers.
Monday morning, de Blasio said he would be adding to 250 new officers to patrol the subway, but asked the MTA to make good on their 2019 promise to hire 500 of their own.
In return, interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said at a Bowling Green press conference in the afternoon that the 1,000 NYPD officers assigned to stations and trains need to remain there as the city and the MTA’s ridership recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the mayor hit the nail on the head today when he said this is what’s needed to bring the city back and to bring the economy back, so we’re gonna hold him to it,” Feinberg said. “We want a commitment from him that these officers will remain in the system as the city continues its recovery and as we continue to welcome riders back. We need the NYPD transit Bureau to start working with us on transparency and deployment information just as we work with them.”
MTA Chairman Pat Foye explained that while the MTA adopted the plan to hire 500 new officers in December 2019, 400 of which have already been on-boarded, the main role they will plan now will be different from that of catching fare beaters.
Now, they will act as a crime deterrent that will take the place of having more riders in the system as daily swipes make the slow climb from the current 2.2 million to the pre-pandemic 5.5 million, Foye said.
“I want to make it clear that we’ve been actively hiring officers at the MTA police department. After action by Congress to stabilize our finances earlier this year we were able to remove our hiring freeze across the agency, we took it off the MTA police department first and move forward. And by the summer we will have hired an additional 400 of the 500 officers we had planned,” Foye said. “But now we need a commitment from city hall that these patrols will remain dedicated to the system to the transit system as we recover.”
Tensions between the mayor and the MTA have been hitting a boiling point since the April board meeting in which NYPD Transit Chief Kathleen O’Reilly reported that crime was down overall and the need for additional enforcement would be in vain.
O’Reilly and Feinberg debated the value of having cops as a visible crime deterrent, and began pushing the de Blasio for not only transparency as to how many officers were assigned to stations, but also answers as to whether or not the 500 cops surged into the system following a stabbing spree that killed two and injured two more in February.
According to de Blasio, today’s action of deploying more cops into the transit system equals the amount that were in stations and trains 25 years ago.