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Morning Spew

Coming to a Subway Near You: More Cops and ‘Random’ Bag Checks

And more news for your Wednesday.

(Hell Gate)

What did we get after the NYPD flooded the subway system with a thousand more cops last year, to the tune of an additional $155 million in overtime spending? Not much more than a sharp increase in fare evasion enforcement and a shift in vibes. Assaults on the MTA system actually went up in the midst of this surge in cops, but nevermind that pesky detail. "Stopping fare evaders sets the tone of law and order," asserted the NYPD's Chief of Transit Michael Kemper at the end of 2023. 

Now, a few months into 2024 and on the heels of an attack on a subway conductor (that possibly led to a wildcat strike), Mayor Eric Adams and Kemper are once again planning to address the eternal issue of subway crime with—surprise!—more cops and now, more bag checks, which Adams has promised will be "random." According to Kemper, 1,000 additional cops already began patrolling the subways in February. "When I'm on the subway system and I'm speaking to riders, they say, 'Eric, nothing makes us feel safer than seeing that officer at the token booth, walking through the system, walking through the trains,'" Adams said on Tuesday. Governor Kathy Hochul apparently agrees—later today, she's expected to announce that state troopers will be deployed underground.   

In an interview with NY1 on Wednesday morning, Adams and Kemper defended the need to turn the subways into a police fortress. "We don't have a surge in crime, we have a surge in recidivism," Adams said, clutching a poster that he said he created, which included the statistic that 38 people arrested for assaulting MTA employees in 2023 had a total of 1,126 arrests. 

Kemper put the blame for subway crime on, as he put it to NY1, "lawmakers, judges, and prosecutors." "Our cops are out there, they're working hard, and they're making arrests at record levels, they're stopping people with these quality of life offenses," he said, referring to fare evasion summonses. "The bigger question, or the better question, is what're happening to these arrests once they're made. Why are we forced to arrest people 50 times, a hundred times?" he said, before pointing the finger at "other stakeholders."

In an interview with PIX11 that followed, Adams seemed to agree with Kemper. "We need to do an analysis of the entire criminal justice system to make sure every aspect of it is doing its job," the mayor said. 

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