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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

New York Announces Expanded Security Initiatives for Subways

The MTA will continue to install cameras in each subway car, as well as have train conductors announce to riders when they are entering a station with police officers present. Security guards (Gate Guards) will be placed at certain subway stations in order to increase security presence, to function as "eyes and ears" for law enforcement, and to deter fare evasion. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have announced expanded initiatives to keep New York City subways safe and address transit crime. 

The announcement comes as police stopped travelers from bringing loaded guns and blades onto the subway. 

The expanded initiatives include a significant investment from the State’s public emergency fund and a commitment to work with the city on a dedicated revenue source to support additional police presence in the subway system. The New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will surge officer presence on platforms by approximately 1,200 additional overtime officer shifts each day on the subway — equating to approximately 10,000 additional overtime patrol hours every day — as well as two new dedicated units at psychiatric centers to help provide those experiencing serious mental health illness with the assistance they need. 

The MTA Police are going to be deployed into the subway system at four major commuter railroad hubs — Penn Station, Grand Central Station, Atlantic Terminal, and Sutphin-Archer (Jamaica) Station. This action will result in freeing up roughly 100 NYPD officers for deployments at other priority transit locations on trains and in stations — allowing commuters and those attempting to commit crimes to see an omnipresence of officers in the transit system. 

In addition, the MTA will continue to install cameras in each subway car to enhance security coverage and increase rider confidence, as well as have train conductors announce to riders when they are entering a station with police officers present. The MTA is expanding camera coverage to the inside of over 6,500 subway cars, which will include installation of cameras in subway cars at a rate of 750 cameras per month, following the completion of a procurement process, until the entire subway car fleet is camera-equipped in late 2024.

MTA will also place security guards (Gate Guards) at certain subway stations in order to increase security presence, to function as “eyes and ears” for law enforcement, and to deter fare evasion. 

To continue to address the unhoused population sheltering in the subway system and those who are suffering from severe mental illness, as well as build on progress since Governor Hochul deployed Safe Options Support crisis intervention teams, Governor Hochul has directed the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) to create two new, dedicated 25-bed units, for a total of 50 inpatient beds. 

In addition, OMH will expand crisis intervention training for MTA Police, the NYPD, and EMS/EMT, teaching them best practices for engaging individuals experiencing homelessness and ensuring they are fully informed of the statutory authority for the transport of individuals in need of a psychiatric evaluation. These expanded initiatives build on ongoing collaboration between the State and City on subway safety and outreach to the population experiencing homelessness. Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams also pledged to explore strengthening and improving laws providing assistance to those suffering from serious mental health illness. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Nuria Fernandez held a roundtable discussion in New York City on October 24 with local leaders of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) communities regarding the experience of riders of Asian descent on New York City’s public transportation system. Congresswoman Grace Meng and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chair and CEO, Janno Lieber, joined the discussion with seven AA & NHPI community organizations and a representative of the President’s Advisory Commission on AA & NHPI. 

At the discussion, participants shared the experiences of their members targeted by anti-Asian hate, as well as their ideas for addressing crime and improving safety on transit. They expressed the importance of communities of color working together to combat hate crimes, ignorance, and bias on public transportation.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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