National Guard called to New York City subways

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Kathy Hochul did Mayor Eric Adams one better Wednesday when she said the National Guard would be called to the subways of New York City.

Each responding to a spike in crime on the city’s transit system, Adams on Tuesday said more police officers would be in subway stations and bag checks would be reinstituted.

Hochul, in a press conference with MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber and others at the New York City Transit Rail Control Center, said 750 members of the Guard would be deployed to help police.

Speaking of the actions as a deterrent, Hochul said, “They might be thinking, ‘You know what, it may just not be worth it because I listened to the mayor and I listened to the governor and they have a lot more people who are going to be checking my bags.”

She said another 250 state troopers and police officers from the MTA will help with bag searches.

The New York Civil Liberties Union denounced the moves as government overreach.

Adams told reporters at a weekly briefing on Tuesday he plans to deploy an additional 1,000 officers to patrol the subway and expand random police searches of bags and backpacks. There have been three fatal shootings this year.

“We are going to continuously make sure we show a visible presence to deal with how people are feeling in our subway system right now,” he said.

Police data on subway crime says it is up 13% compared to 2023, with assaults on the transit system up 11%.

Last week, a MTA conductor was slashed in the neck at a Brooklyn subway station, and a 61-year-old man was stabbed in the Bronx, according to published reports. Police are investigating.

The Transport Workers Union, which represents train conductors, has criticized the MTA over the rise in crime. It says the recent conductor’s slashing is “a horrific example of the epic, decades-long failure by the MTA and Chairman Janno Lieber to protect transit workers.”

“On workplace safety, the MTA has been an abysmal failure,” TWU President John Samuelsen said in a statement. “Assaults against transit workers in the subway increased nearly 60% last year. Unlike Lieber, transit workers don’t travel with a dedicated and armed MTA police squad.”

Hochul is expected to file legislation aimed at cracking down on subway crime.

Recent polls say crime remains a top issue for many New Yorkers, even as Hochul administration and city officials tout FBI data showing an overall decline in violent crimes in the state.

Adams says the city is making progress on reducing crime and said he’s discussing with police and community leaders plans to make the surges of officers in transit a permanent policy.

“We have to push back on people who are telling us to disband or defund our police department, because the public is stating they want their police officers out there,” he told reporters. “And so the loudest voices cannot hijack what I have always stated the prerequisite to our prosperity is: public safety.”

The mayor noted that statistically, the chances of being a victim of crime in the subway system are low but acknowledged that some New Yorkers are “afraid” to take the subway. He said more officers on the street will improve public safety and push back on the “perception” that the transit system is unsafe.

“We know people feel unsafe,” Adams said in remarks on Tuesday. “We need our officers out there.”