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Updated: October 22, 2022, 7:18 PM

More police presence planned for NYC subways, Adams and Hochul say

By Grant Parpan

The presence of police on New York City subway trains and platforms will increase by 1,200 overtime shifts per day under a safety initiative announced Saturday by Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.

The state's public emergency fund will pay for the expanded police presence, which amounts to 10,000 daily hours, as officials work to establish a dedicated revenue source, Hochul said. A mental health component is also included in the plan.

MTA police will be deployed to stations that feed four major commuter hubs — Penn Station, Grand Central Station, Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica Station — freeing up about 100 NYPD officers, who will move to other transit-oriented posts. Unarmed uniformed security guards will also be deployed.

“It’s a tactical approach,” Hochul said at a media briefing in Manhattan. “Where is the need the greatest? How do we bring in reinforcements? We are the reinforcements.”

The police presence will appear at more than 300 stations during peak ridership times and during hours crime is more likely to occur, Adams said.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said MTA subway conductors will be asked to inform riders when they are entering a subway station with a police transit district and to make an announcement any time they spot a uniformed officer on a platform.

Each of the officials who spoke Saturday acknowledged that many New Yorkers feel unsafe when riding the trains even if subway crime rates are down overall.

“We’re having alarming episodes that scare New Yorkers and have to be dealt with,” said MTA CEO Janno Lieber.

Hochul acknowledged an Oct. 21 shooting on an A train that killed Jayjon Burnett, 15, of Far Rockaway, one of nine subway homicides this year.

An 18-year-old from Queens was charged in the shooting, which happened after a confrontation between two groups of teens about 3:45 p.m. near the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station in Queens. While officers were stationed at the platform as the train arrived moments later, none were on the car, police said at the time.

“We have to have a more significant, visible presence,” Hochul said. “People want to see that there’s an officer there when they need help. It’s also an incredible deterrent.”

Another component to the initiative aims to address issues with homeless and mentally distressed riders.

Adams said that while police have worked this year to eliminate homeless encampments within the subway stations, police and the MTA must remove riders with visible severe mental illness from train cars. “The system cannot be to walk past them and ignore that they’re there,” the mayor said.

Hochul said there will be two dedicated units from the state’s Office of Mental Health at psychiatric centers with a total of 50 inpatient beds to provide support for riders “experiencing mental health illness.”

In a statement, PBA president Patrick Lynch called the policing initiative "unsustainable."

"We have 12.45% fewer rank-and-file cops permanently assigned to the subways than we did in 2020," Lynch said. "The increased workload is crushing the cops who remain. The answer is not to squeeze them for more forced OT. It’s not to pass off responsibilities to the better-paid but smaller MTA Police Department. And it definitely isn’t replacing them with unarmed security guards."

The announcement comes during a hotly contested gubernatorial race between Hochul and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), whose campaign has made crime in New York City a signature talking point.