The 472 subway stations and trains that flow in and out of the heart of Manhattan to almost every extremity of the Big Apple make up the lifeblood of the city. But for the last few years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is hemorrhaging that lifeblood.
They are projected to lose $500 million in subway revenue this year due in large part to the rising tide of violence underground.
Ridership Down 40%
As of October 2022, ridership in the NYC subway system is down almost 40% from pre-pandemic levels. But despite that drastic reduction in ridership, homicides are at a 25-year high. So far, this year, there have been nine murders in the subway. Since 2020, there have been 23.
That is more than the total number of subway killings for the prior 11 years from 2008 to 2019 combined.
In a recent speech addressing the uptick in transit violence, our flailing mayor and former transit cop, Eric Adams, blamed the media for the ‘perception’ that the system is unsafe. He accused them of highlighting a handful of sensational crimes to create that perception.
‘I Felt Unsafe’
But his tone was very different ten months ago when, on his first day in office, he rode the train from his home in Brooklyn to work and said…“I felt unsafe. I saw homeless everywhere yelling on the trains. There was a feeling of disorder.”
He promised to address the problem…“ We’re going to drive down crime and make sure New Yorkers feel safe on our subway system.” Unfortunately, he has been a spectacular failure at both.
The numbers don’t lie. Violent crime is up over 40% downstairs over last year. In addition to the murders, there are countless other victims — people shoved onto the train tracks, assaulted and robbed.
One only has to peruse social media sites to see the mayhem whether it’s a crew of women dressed in Green Goblin outfits beating and robbing passengers, a homeless man pooping in a Transit Authority mop bucket or a mentally ill vagrant smearing feces in a woman’s face. Tell the victims of those crimes and the families of the murder victims that chaos in the subway is based on a perception created by the media.
When recently challenged by reporters on subway crime, Adams doubled down, boasting, “We have an average of less than 6 crimes a day on a system with over 3.5 million riders.”
If you ride the subways everyday you know that number is absurd and if Adams were being honest he would acknowledge that his number only reflects the seven major index crimes like murder, rape, robbery and felony assault. It does not include, crimes like sexual abuse, pickpockets, the mentally ill menacing and harassing passengers, Assault 3, disorderly conduct or a slew of other crimes.
So Why Is Subway Crime Up So Dramatically?
Like most other criminal justice issues facing the country, the same woke, liberal politicians who created the problem with their soft-on-crime policies are now scratching their heads pretending to wonder how they can fix it.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, head of perhaps the most prestigious and important prosecutor’s office in the country, is one of the main culprits behind the violent crime spike. Everyday, the blood of innocent victims stains his reputation as he continues to behave more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor.
When he took office in January, Bragg gave subway riders the green light to evade the fare by announcing loudly and proudly that in the name of equity his office would no longer prosecute crimes like fare evasion and other misdemeanor crimes a direct contradiction of the oath he took to enforce the laws of NY State.
If he knew anything about fighting crime in the subways or anywhere else, he would have known this was a colossal mistake that goes against everything we’ve learned in the last twenty-five years of policing in New York City.
I was a Transit cop for several years before our department merged with the NYPD. It was my experience that the average, law abiding citizen pays their fare and obeys the law. Stopping people who jump the turnstile, urinate or even defecate in public, or commit other minor crimes, was and is a very useful tool in catching the real criminals who move through the system.
Bragg and other, clueless, social justice warriors, argue that targeting turnstile jumpers and other minor offenses is an injustice that disproportionately affects the minority community, a premise that is as absurd as their disastrous policies.
No matter what the corrupt media or these race-baiting politicians tell you, police officers enforce the laws without regard to race. The mostly minority NYPD is no exception.
Are there officers who abuse their authority? Sure, but having served two years as a squad commander in the Internal Affairs Bureau and arresting a few of them, I can tell you it is a minuscule number in the scheme of things and the offenders come in all different colors, shapes and sizes.
The enforcement of these important statutes underground and in the streets above creates an atmosphere of law and order that actually lessens the number of people of any color being stopped or arrested for minor crimes. When the criminals know bad behavior will not be tolerated, they are much less likely to commit crimes. That would actually reduce the number of people arrested or stopped.
It was the “Broken Windows” strategy of policing that inspired a crime fighting tool called Compstat that eventually helped make New York City the safest big city in America after the most violent period in its history.
But when you strip away proven policing tactics in the subways, decriminalize bad behavior while weakening the ability of officers to do their job by passing laws that that turn crime fighters into the report takers of the past, the result is anarchy and chaos. And as usual, the people who suffer the most are the people who Alvin Bragg, Kathy Hochul and Eric Adams claim they are trying to protect.
So How Can We Fix It?
As former NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently said, “It’s not brain surgery.” We have the recipe. We’ve made the dish. People loved it.
Almost three decades ago, Rudy Giuliani, Commissioner Bill Bratton, And Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple and the rest of the NYPD served up a dish of law and order to the streets of New York that dramatically reduced violent crime to historically low levels.
Murders across the city went from more than 2,000 in the early 1990’s to less than 300 by 2014. We simply need to go back to what we started doing back then and stopped doing under the failed disgrace of a mayor, Bill De Blasio.
In the subways, we need to bring back specialized Transit Police Units like plainclothes anti-crime, the decoy squad, the Tactical Patrol Force, and homeless outreach. These units and many others were instrumental in creating a feeling of safety and order in the subways. Criminals were much less likely to commit a crime when they were unsure if the man dressed as a priest sitting in the subway car or the Hasidic Jewish man standing on the platform was a member of the police department or a member of the clergy.
The mentally ill and homeless were routinely removed from the system and taken to more conventional shelters or hospitals by homeless outreach officers working with other city agencies to keep them out of the subway.
There was a strong uniformed presence in the subways with a Transit Police Officer on every train from 8:00pm to 4:00am when passengers were most vulnerable.
Those are just a few examples of proven techniques that made the subway a safe and reliable mode of travel and will undoubtedly work again. But none of this happens without laws being changed and politicians being replaced by those who will to take the handcuffs off of the cops and put them back on the criminals.
Barack Obama was right when he said, “Elections have consequences.” That has never been truer than it will be this November.
So, make your voice heard.
John Dove is a retired NYPD Detective Lieutenant and the former co-executive producer of CSI-NY starring Gary Sinise.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.