Jan 6, 2023
NYC Subway Crime Jumps 30%, Defying Surge in Police Patrols
(Bloomberg) -- New York City’s subway crime rose by 30% in 2022 from a year ago, outpacing the 22% jump in major crimes across the city during the same period, according to police data released this week.
But the city’s deployment of thousands of additional police patrols in the transit system and added overtime hours have their limits due to high costs and the toll it takes on cops.
The current surge in subway patrols is necessary to reduce crime and put riders at ease, Mayor Eric Adams said at a briefing Thursday. “Once we stabilized that, we’re going to right-size,” he said. “You’re going to see a normalizing of the number of people who are there.”
The New York City Police Department is spending an additional $20 million per month on overtime costs on top of regular levels, which pushed its overtime spending to $272 million through November. That’s more than 70% of the annual overtime budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30, according to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office.
The rise in spending comes as Adams tries to tamp down on criticism that the city isn’t doing enough to combat crime in the transit system, where ridership has stagnated at 60% of 2019 levels. Meanwhile, some City Council members said the money should be spent on other services like schools and libraries, which are grappling with budget cuts.
NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper on Thursday said the additional subway patrols helped reduce major crime in the transit system by 4.6% from the end of October through December, compared to the same period in 2021.
“This plan is paying dividends,” Kemper said. “We went from a very concerning increase in crime for the first 10 months of the year to a sharp turnaround during the last nine weeks of the year.”
The number of subway incidents remained lower than pre-pandemic levels, when there were more riders. Still, a lack of ridership comes with major costs for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. As a result of depressed ridership, the MTA said in December that it would hike fares by 5.5%, cut spending and reduce service on some subway lines.
“We are counting on our partners in government to step up and deal with the financial strains that have been created by the loss of ridership,” Janno Lieber, the MTA’s chief executive officer, said last month.
Read More: NY MTA Approves $19 Billion Budget With Fare Hike, Service Cuts
Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul in October pledged 1,200 overtime shifts by NYPD officers to supplement the nearly 2,600 cops already assigned to the system. That surge was meant to address a pandemic-related increase in subway crime, which came as riders returned to public transit.
The Police Benevolent Association, which represents more than 24,000 NYPD cops, suggested that the continued pace was unsustainable and that the city was “underpaying and overworking cops.”
In a series of local television interviews on Friday morning, Adams tried to direct focus away from the numbers and toward the perception of everyday New Yorkers. He also said the city needed to encourage cops to walk around and engage with riders, rather than just stand guard at subway stations.
“It’s important that people are not only safe based on the numbers, but they feel safe also,” Adams said on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York.” “We know that we are far from where we want to be, but we’re seeing a safer, cleaner system.”
He also noted that while major crimes are up, driven by an uptick in robberies and burglaries, homicides actually fell 11% in 2022 from a year ago and shootings dropped 17% during the same period.
“The last six months you saw a clear indicator that we’re trending in the right direction,” Adams said in a separate interview on Spectrum News NY1.
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