Calls grow for increased police presence in NYC subway
NEW YORK - The Transit Workers Union and the MTA are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to deploy more police officers into the subway system following an increase in attacks on riders and transit workers.
"My members are in the hospital getting stabbed, getting punched, getting spit on," said Tony Utano, President of the TWU Local 100.
This week alone, an emotionally disturbed person held up service for 90 minutes after breaking into a conductor's cab on a J train.
A day later, an off-duty subway conductor was slashed eye to ear while riding the same line.
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The NYPD says so far this year there have been 300 felony assaults in the subway system. The union says that is up 44 percent compared to 3 years ago.
"We don't need the police upstairs, we don't need them by the turnstile, we need them where the crimes are happening on the platform. When that train pulls in, there should be a police officer by the conductor, there should be a police officer by the train operator, because that's where it's happening," Utano said.
However, Mayor de Blasio insists that the subways are safe, saying no real New Yorker fears New York City subways.
"What is happening right now is clearly at the instruction of the governor and MTA leadership, just fear-mongering," De Blasio said. "I've never seen anything like it."
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The MTA responded to the Mayor's comment, saying in a statement: "Hiding your head in the sand and pretending everything is alright while ignoring the reality transit workers and riders across the country, but particularly in New York City, face every day is not a way to make the subways safer and bring NYC back."
The NYPD is now sending auxiliary police officers to the city's busiest stations, but some New Yorkers say that's not enough.
According to a recent survey by the MTA, 72 percent of riders are very concerned with crime and harassment and more than 75 percent say they feel safer with the presence of uniformed police officers.