NYC Subways Need ‘Immediate Action’ to Become Safer, Adams Says

Crime in New York City’s subways is making too many residents hesitant to return to mass transit and preventing the city’s comeback from the pandemic, Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral hopeful Eric Adams said Monday.

Adams called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and other public officials to increase police in the subway stations ahead of the May 17 resumption of 24-hour service. He said there needs to be more mental health professionals and increased coordination between the NYPD’s street patrols and the transit police. He said de Blasio wasn’t doing enough to reverse the rapid rise in violent crime and shootings in the city, which rose by 166% in April from a year ago, according to the NYPD.

“All I’m hearing is about prevention, but we need to talk about intervention. How do we stop the violence right now?” Adams said at a press conference alongside Tony Utano, the president of transport-worker union TWU Local 100, which has endorsed Adams.

Adams, along with rival Andrew Yang, has been polling among the top two candidates in a crowded field ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary, which is likely to decide the race. One poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in late April showed Adams was the first-place pick for 21% of respondents.

The former transit cop also has among the most number of political endorsements and the largest war chest among the candidates: Adams has raised $8.9 million in campaign funds, according to the city’s campaign finance board. That compares to $5.9 million for Yang and $8.7 million for city Comptroller and mayoral hopeful Scott Stringer.

Surging Crime

The rise in popularity for Adams’ campaign comes as residents and business leaders are grappling with a surge in violent crime which began to increase during the pandemic but has remained stubbornly high and threaten to derail an already fragile comeback.

Adams’ push for more police presence, and a proposal to restore a controversial anti-crime unit that was disbanded by de Blasio last year after civilian complaints and instances of force piled up, marks a massive ideological move away from calls last summer to “defund the police” following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“Let’s use dollars to keep our city safe,” Adams said when asked about the winnowing number of mayoral competitors who are calling to defund the police budget. “People don’t want to live by a bumper sticker.”

‘Threshold Issue’

On Saturday, three people were shot in the middle of Times Square in broad daylight, including a 4-year-old girl who was toy shopping with her family and a 23-year-old tourist from Rhode Island. They were shot after a fight broke out among several men, at least one of whom opened fire near Seventh Avenue and West 45th Street. De Blasio on Monday pledged to add more police presence in the area, but declined to provide specifics.

“Ridership is starting to climb again, but our subway system is dangerous,” Adams said. “It’s not to make people fearful, it’s dealing with the facts that right now our system is dangerous. Because of a persistent violent crime and crisis of confidence, New Yorkers are worrying about the safety of the city.”

Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the New York City Transit Authority, called on the city to immediately add more NYPD officers in the subway during a Monday briefing with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. She also urged mayoral hopefuls to focus the race more on addressing increasing crime rates.

“It feels very clear that we do not have the resources that we need,” Feinberg said. “I would love to see this debated by the mayoral candidates a little bit more, because frankly this is going to go beyond this mayor.”

Cuomo said the Times Square shooting was awful but that it only emphasized what New Yorkers already know: that there is a crime issue in the city.

“For the next mayor that’s going to be a threshold issue,” Cuomo said. “It’s not just crime in the subways, it’s crime in the city, and I think that should be a top topic in this mayoral debate. What do you think the solution is? How do we stop the killings?”

Adams said if the city is going to bring workers back to offices and visitors back to the tourist attractions that drive New York’s economy, it’s going to have to tamp down on the elevated number of shootings, murders and hate crimes.

“How the heck are we going to return tourism, when seeing tourists shot at Grand Central Station, stabbed with a screwdriver, shot in Midtown Manhattan in Times Square?” Adams said. “You’re seeing the erosion of basic principles that made this city what it is.”

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