More police will not make public transit safer. Housing and Social Services Will.


After a series of high-profile violent incidents on the New York City subway, Mayor Eric Adams has pledged to create a police “omnipresence” in the metro. Since taking office in January, the new mayor has deployed 500 officers across the system, bringing the total number of transit police officers to one registration 3,500.

Adams responds to a perception—inflamed by the tabloids — that the metro is in crisis. The truth is more complicated: transit complaints on the metro are down nearly 28% since 2019, but crime per passenger has increased as ridership has only bounced back to around 60% of pre-pandemic levels. There was one crime per million passengers in 2019, down from 1.63 in 2021. Yet with daily ridership of more than 3 million at the end of 2021, the risk of being a victim is low and the metro represents the safest form of transportation.

Strengthening public safety and increasing the number of users of public transport networks are important objectives. Polls To display that the fear of crime is one of the main reasons why people are reluctant to take the metro. But the polls too demonstrate that New Yorkers do not see hiring more police as the best investment in public safety. Building more affordable housing and dispatching mental health workers instead of police were ranked among the highest public safety priorities last spring.

New Yorkers are right: police omnipresence is not the most effective way to reduce violent crime, nor does it address housing instability or substance abuse. Nor is the deployment of underground policing driven by data. In 2020, 10% of New York’s police force patrolled the subway, even though only 2% of crime occurred the. Pouring police into areas where crime is relatively low leads to police overdo it what they encounter: insignificant violations such as tariff evasion, supplier licensing or public hibernation. Adam order officers to prioritize the arrests of these so-called “quality of life“offence and trumpeted a 51 percent increase in fare evasion arrests. This kind of “broken windows” style font failed prevent acts of violence that jeopardize public safety.

Recent history illustrates this failure. From December 2019 to the end of 2020, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo flooded transit system with the police, ordering them to crack down on fare evasion and homelessness. Cuomo’s attempt to the police to get out of the city’s housing crisis failed. Police overtime costs skyrockets 21% and homeless populations at busiest MTA stations leaps 45% last summer. NYPD practices in the subway sets off allegations of racism and an investigation by the state attorney general’s office. And largest police presence on the MTA in a quarter century has coincided with growing underground public safety concerns.

But politicians like Adam insist that more police and unproven security technology are the only way to improve public transport. It is simply not true. Instead, authorities can implement a slew of popular and more effective options to address the slight increase in crime on public transit, bolster public safety, alleviate housing instability, and increase crime. traffic. These include:

  • Provide housing, not the police. People who are often homeless Choose sleeping in public transport rather than in shelters due to the dangerous conditions in the shelter system; dangers that were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York, the solution lies in filling the 2,500 city-funded apartments currently vacant due to what advocates call a “bureaucratic nightmare” and offering more secure individual accommodation.
  • Invest in awareness. Rather than hire police to criminalize homelessness and mental health crises, New York City should expand social service support systems. A TransitCenter report last year recommended that New York City deploy fewer cops and more unarmed, non-police personnel, such as outreach workers. This tactic has been implemented in other jurisdictions: Los Angeles County recently hired 40 social workers to carry out sensitization activities in the metro. LA has also contracted with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) to provide outreach services to homeless people, and evaluations show that PATH teams are After more cost-effective than the police to provide services to homeless people.
  • Improvement of infrastructure. Improving infrastructure is also helpful. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Pit Stop program provides attendant public restrooms, which reduced reports of urination, defecation, graffiti and needles in station elevators 98%.
  • Develop tariff justice programs. In 2019, New York spent $249 million in additional policy, which only prevented $200 million in fare evasion losses, for a huge net loss. Not only does policing cost more than its impact on fare evasion, but it also imposes wildly unequal costs on black people and other people of color, who are the matters 90 percent of tariff arrests. Instead of addressing the symptom of overrunning fares, New York City should address the two things that drive it: poverty and inconvenience. For example, security improved when Kansas City implemented a zero fee program in 2020, with security incidents decline 17% per 100,000 passengers.

Together, these measures can help address housing instability and mental illness while increasing ridership. Experts say more passengers are critical as stations and trains are empty conduct to more crime.

Our public safety toolkit has more to offer than billions of dollars for bloated police budgets that are saturating subways with cops, especially when their presence on public transportation is already at record highs and clearly ineffective. It is high time that officials turned to evidence-based solutions instead of pouring even more resources into a failed policy.

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