NYPD transit chief blames MTA for crime scares.
The Columbus Dispatch/TNS
NEW YORK-The city’s top subway cop on Wednesday accused MTA leaders of stoking fear that transit crime is out of control — and said that last week was one of the safest in the subway’s history.
NYPD Transit Bureau chief Kathleen O’Reilly took issue with a recent survey published by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that found 36% of straphangers were not riding the subway out of fear of “crime and harassment.” She also pushed back on calls from transit officials for a surge of cops into the subway.
“It’s a disservice to New Yorkers to advance a narrative that crime is soaring on the subways when that is simply not the case,” O’Reilly said during the MTA board’s monthly meeting. “Crime is at record lows at almost every category and we have every interest in driving it even lower.”
The number of major felonies reported in the subways fell by 53% during the first three months of 2021 from the same period last year. Subway ridership remains even lower as the pandemic soldiers on, with roughly 65% fewer people in the system each day than before the outbreak.
O’Reilly said there were just 15 crimes reported in the subway last week, making it the second-safest week ever recorded in the system. She blamed crime concerns on the MTA’s failure to install cameras in every subway station, train car and platform.
“We’re dealing with perception that the subway is not safe,” O’Reilly said. “Crime is at record lows.”
Interim NYC Transit president Sarah Feinberg — who last month called for cops to be stationed on every subway platform — agreed Wednesday crime isn’t out of control in the subways but argued that a high number of riders were worried about safety.
“The suggestion that we’re fear mongering I think is unfair,” said Feinberg. “The answer to this issue cannot be, just stop talking about it. We can’t just pretend what our customers care about doesn’t matter.”
The NYPD in February surged more than 500 additional police officers into the subway after a stabbing spree and a string of straphangers pushed off subway platforms in unprovoked attacks. Feinberg and other transit leaders called for 1,000 additional cops.
Feinberg said it’s crucial for riders to feel safe in order for millions of riders to return to the subway — bringing with them transit fares the MTA desperately needs.
“The next three to six months are critical in terms of getting ridership back,” Feinberg said.
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