Cuomo’s wrong on ‘dramatic increase’ remark: O’Neill

Police Commissioner James O’Neill addresses honorees at an NYPD promotions ceremony on Oct. 30. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

A day after Governor Andrew Cuomo said there has been a “dramatic increase in crime in the subways,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill refuted that assertion, saying he disagrees with the “governor’s characterization.”

Cuomo, who made his contention yesterday during his tour of Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport, said that the addition of 500 MTA cops to patrol the subways because “there has been a dramatic increase in crime in the subway system — felonies are up, assaults are up, robberies are up — and I’ve been talking about this for years.”

Here is the link to hear the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBO1DlrZ2_s&feature=youtu.be

But following a department promotion ceremony at One Police Plaza on Wednesday, O’Neill indicated the governor’s words were off the mark.

“This is a total mischaracterization – overall crime is down, but of course, we are always concerned about fare evasion. We’re concerned about quality of life,” O’Neill said. “Fare evasion enforcement is up and it needs to be up. I speak about this all the time as an old transit cop – if you have control of the turnstiles, you can control the crime.”

O’Neill said that he has spoken with Chief of Department Terrance Monahan about adding police officers, and working in partnership with the MTA.

“We get about six major crimes per day and there are six million riders per day, so that is not a system that is out of control,” O’Neill charged, “so I absolutely disagree with Governor Cuomo’s characterization.”

NYPD data indicates that crime in the city’s transit system is actually down 1.4 percent year-over-year through September. There has been an uptick in robberies when comparing those same figures, though overall crime rates have remained fairly consistent since 2015.

The MTA is planning to add its own police officers to the system, and O’Neill said the NYPD will work cooperatively with them in patrolling the subways.

Cuomo had first proposed the additional officers earlier this year to address rising worker assaults, fare evasion and homelessness in the subways.

NYPD Transit Chief Edward Delatorre further elaborated that the NYPD and MTA working on improving communication between MTA cops and NYPD officers to smoothly and quickly answer calls for assistance.

“We will coordinate with them, give them our radios to communicate and we have a command center where we coordinate all the resources out of transit now — they are currently in there to some degree now,” Delatorre said.

Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye came to the governor’s defense, citing a few types of crimes that have risen in the subway — even though crime overall is down. 

“This is not a question of ‘characterization’ but rather the facts,” Foye said in a statement. “According to the MTA’s crime statistics, subway arrests for robbery are up 22 percent, felony assault has increased nearly 13 percent, grand larceny is up 13 percent, gun arrests have jumped nearly 43 percent year to date, and the TWU has said assaults on transit workers are up 39 percent. Those are the facts and the Commissioner can’t deny reality. Denying the problem means the city will never solve it.” 

Listen to Commissioner O’Neill’s response here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6r1DS-0ROQ&t=1s