Crime Dipped in Subway After Increase in Police, Hochul and Adams Say
Crime has fallen on New York City’s subway since the October start of a safety initiative that filled the system with more police officers, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams said on Friday.
Ms. Hochul and Mr. Adams, speaking at a news conference in Manhattan, said that rates of major crimes in the subway had dropped 16 percent from Oct. 25 to Jan. 22, compared with the same period a year earlier.
“That is a trend that we can feel good about,” Ms. Hochul said, “as long as that continues to hold.”
Criminal justice experts echoed the governor’s tempered statement.
“They can certainly pat themselves on the back for a couple months of good numbers,” said Christopher Herrmann, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “But we’re going to have to kind of wait and see how things play out during the year.”
The mayor and governor said in October that along with improving public safety, the move to assign more officers to the subway was meant to combat a public perception — fed by several high-profile crimes — that the system had become much more dangerous.
Transportation in New York City
- L.I.R.R. Project: An expansion of the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central Terminal finally opened to the public after years of delays and soaring costs.
- Ride-Hail App Drivers: Drivers in the city say they are struggling, faced with inflation, hefty fees and Uber’s efforts to block the taxi commission from raising their pay.
- Holland Tunnel: New Jersey-bound traffic through the tunnel will be barred for several hours six nights a week while crews repair damage from Hurricane Sandy.
- M.T.A. Fares: The state-run agency that operates the transit system is planning to raise subway and bus fares twice by 2025 as a way of heading off a budget disaster.
Ms. Hochul’s office said on Friday that the state had committed up to $62 million to help the city cover the cost of hundreds of additional overtime shifts a day for police officers to patrol the subway. She and other officials also announced a plan to install cameras inside every train car, among other safety-oriented efforts. The moves came as Mr. Adams ramped up a push late last year to remove homeless people from the system.
The anti-crime initiatives were spurred by a rise in violence on a vital transit network. There were 10 killings on the subway last year, compared with an average of two a year in the five years before the pandemic began.
There has been at least one killing on the subway so far this year, with a man facing a manslaughter charge after a second man he was fighting with fell onto the tracks at a Manhattan subway station and died.
The crime problems on the subway have been mirrored outside the system. Citywide, surges in robbery, burglary and other crimes helped drive a 22 percent increase in major crime last year compared with 2021 despite a significant drop in shootings and murders that reflected national trends.
Responding to the crime data released by Ms. Hochul and Mr. Adams, some officials said it was unclear how much the city and state were spending on the safety effort.
“There are open questions about the overall cost of this initiative and we’ll be closely evaluating the governor and mayor’s proposed spending plans in the coming weeks,” Councilwoman Selvena N. Brooks-Powers and Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks said in a joint statement. Ms. Brooks-Powers leads the transportation and infrastructure committee; Ms. Hanks chairs the public safety committee.
The announcement on Friday came a day after Mr. Adams delivered his second State of the City address. In the speech, the mayor, a former police captain, said he would keep public safety among his top priorities. Mr. Adams said he wanted to address a “recidivism crisis” by targeting 1,700 repeat offenders involved in violent crime.
A New York Times analysis of Metropolitan Transportation Authority and police statistics published in November showed that the possibility of being a victim of violent crime in the subway was remote, even as the rate of offenses like murder, rape, felony assault and robbery had more than doubled since 2019. The analysis found that the rate of 1.2 violent crimes for every million subway rides roughly equaled the chances of getting injured in a crash during a two-mile drive.
But a string of high-profile shoves, stabbings and shootings on trains and in stations have shocked many New Yorkers, causing some to avoid public transit.
Ridership hovers at about 65 percent of its prepandemic levels, and many of those who have stopped using the system cite safety concerns as a factor. Still, the authority said that ridership from January through October 2022 was up 39 percent over the same period in 2021.
Clara Cisneros, a veterinarian, said the added police officers had been a comforting sight during her commute from Downtown Brooklyn to her job in Manhattan.
“I am very hyper-aware of everyone else,” Ms. Cisneros, 29, said. “You just never know.”
Michelle Zeng, 27, who works in book publishing from her Brooklyn apartment, said that instead of spending more public money on policing, public officials should invest in subway service that is cleaner, more frequent, more reliable and more accessible to people with disabilities.
“Public safety has become very politicized,” Ms. Zeng said. “I find it quite annoying. I’d rather they spent money on fixing the subway instead.”
Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for Riders Alliance, which represents passengers’ interests, echoed Ms. Zeng’s comments and said that more frequent service would make riders feel safer and improve their quality of life.
“Trains and buses coming every 15 or 20 minutes does not make us safer, no matter what other policies are in place,” Mr. Pearlstein said.
Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.