NATIONAL NEWS

New York City to send 800 more officers to police subway fare-beating

Mar 25, 2024, 4:22 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City plans to intensify a crackdown on subway fare-beating by sending at least 800 police officers specifically to keep watch on turnstiles, officials announced Monday.

It’s the latest in a string of recent moves to address concerns about safety and unruliness in the nation’s busiest subway system. Now, the New York Police Department plans to deploy hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes officers this week to deter fare evasion.

“The tone of law and order starts at the turnstiles,” department Transit Chief Michael Kemper said at a news conference. Chief of Patrol John Chell said the additional officers would fan out to various stations, based on crime, ridership statistics and community complaints.

Data shows the crackdown on fare-skippers is already under way. Over 1,700 people have been arrested on a charge of turnstile-jumping so far this year, compared to 965 at this time in 2023. Police have issued fare evasion tickets to over 28,000 people so far this year.

A single subway ride is $2.90, though multiple-ride and monthly passes can cut the cost. Officials have complained for years that fare evasion costs the city’s transit system hundreds of millions of dollars a year. However, the policing of turnstile-jumpers has drawn scrutiny of tickets and arrests that disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic people, at least in some past years.

Police and Mayor Eric Adams, a former transit officer himself, in recent weeks have suggested some links between fare-skipping and violence on the trains.

Subway safety fears have proven difficult to put to rest since people in New York and other cities emerged from COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns to a 2021 spurt in crime.

After taking office in 2022, Adams rolled out a plan to send more police, mental health clinicians and social service outreach workers into the subways.

Police reports of major crimes in the transit system dropped nearly 3% from 2022 to 2023, and officials said Monday that overall crime so far this month is down 15% compared to last year.

But worries ratcheted up after some shootings and slashings in the last few months, prompting the NYPD to say in February that it was sending National Guard troops to help conduct random bag checks in the underground system.

Hours before Monday’s news conference, a man was stabbed multiple times on a subway train in a dispute over smoking, police said. A suspect was arrested.

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