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NEW YORK — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, joined by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, rolled out a new plan Saturday with a promised police surge to make the city’s 3.6 million daily straphangers stay and feel safer on the subway while providing help to the system’s homeless population.
Hochul, speaking one day after a deranged suspect shoved a man to the tracks in Brooklyn, promised additional funding for a surge of MTA and New York Police Department officers on trains and station platforms, with an additional 1,200 overtime shifts per day added.
“We will do whatever it takes to make our subways safer for riders,” said Hochul, unveiling the “Cops, Cameras and Care” program aimed at addressing the intertwined problems of crime and homelessness.
In addition to the expanded police presence, more cameras will be installed inside subway cars and a plan was announced to move the homeless and mentally ill in the system into a new treatment program. The MTA will also place unarmed guards at certain subway station to increase security and halt fare-beaters.
“I won’t rest until the subway is a safe place for all,” said Adams, a former Transit Police officer. “People are saying over and over again, ‘We don’t feel safe’ ... Visibility in the system plays a critical role.”
A 15-year-old boy killed last week on a Queens subway train became the system’s eighth homicide of the year, with Transit Bureau statistics showing a 33% increase in robberies and a 16.5% rise in felony assault.
“I don’t feel safe on the trains,” said passenger Wendy Vargas, 29, of Woodhaven. “Actually, I feel very unsafe. There’s no protection, anything can happen at any second. I think they should provide these new mental health services.
“Just yesterday, there were two men screaming at the top of their lungs outside my station. Like, why?”
Tony Saur, 20, of the Bronx, expressed skepticism about the new initiative.
“It’s going to be the same thing,” said Saur, a daily subway rider. “New York never changes ... You barely see cops down there. I saw them twice in the last week.”
The program will additionally deploy MTA police at four major subway terminals, in Grand Central, Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal and the Sutphin-Archer Station to free up roughly 100 city officers to work at other priority transit locations.
The plan also includes a component of training for police officers to deal with people suffering from psychiatric issues, said Hochul.
Police union president Patrick Lynch blasted the new plan as “unsustainable,” noting the department is currently more than 1,000 officers below its budgeted headcount.
“The increased workload is crushing the cops who remain,” he said. “The answer is not to squeeze them for more forced OT. And it’s definitely isn’t replacing them with unarmed security guards.”