In the coming days, police officers won’t just be a more visible presence on the New York City subway — there’ll also be more of them.
That was one of the takeaways from a Saturday afternoon announcement following a press conference on subway safety by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and other city and state officials at Grand Central Terminal. Hochul summarized the new strategy to address subway crime as “the three Cs”: “cops, cameras, care.”
“What we’re announcing here today is a beefing up of the police presence on the subway platforms and cars,” Hochul said. She added that MTA police officers will patrol major commuter railroad hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central, freeing up the NYPD officers who normally patrol those stations to be deployed on trains and at other stations.
The state government will also fund overtime shifts for about 1,200 additional cops per day, Hochul and Adams said. The officers will patrol trains and stations at peak hours. And they’ll be posted at turnstiles, along with a squad of unarmed security guards, to crack down on fare evasion.
Hochul also announced the creation of two new state programs intended to serve homeless New Yorkers living with severe mental illnesses. The first, called “Transition to Home,” is intended to give patients a safe place to stay while they’re treated by doctors, therapists, and social workers. The second, called a “Community Residential Step-Down Program,” is aimed at helping them procure benefits and transition to more independent housing settings after their discharge from the hospital.
The first Transition to Home unit is expected to open by Nov. 1 with 25 inpatient beds at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center.
The announcement is the latest in a series of moves by city and state officials to make the subway system feel safer. Earlier this year, the city cracked down on people sleeping in the subway system and put additional police officers on subway patrols, giving them a clear mandate to enforce the MTA’s rules of conduct. And in September, Hochul announced that the MTA would install security cameras in every single subway car.
So far in 2022, there have been nine homicides in the subway system, Hochul and Adams said, some of which have been committed by people living with severe, untreated mental illnesses. In general, though, most people with mental illness do not commit violent crimes.
Overall, transit crimes reported to the NYPD have increased about 40% compared to last year, when fewer people were riding the subway.