Mayor Adams says he doesn't feel safe on NYC subway

Mayor Eric Adams, who campaigned on a promise to reduce crime in New York City, says he does not feel safe when riding the subways

Adams has found himself on the defensive about comments he made about the overall safety of the nation's largest subway system and the so-called perception of crime in the wake of an alarming rise in violent crime underground, including the fatal shoving of a woman at the Times Square station. 

Yet the mayor, a former transit cop who retired as a captain, now says he doesn't feel safe, either.

"We are going to make sure New Yorkers feel safe in our subway system," Adams said at a City Hall briefing on Tuesday morning. "And they don't feel that way now. I don't feel that way when I take the train."

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Adams, as mayor of the country's largest city, travels with an NYPD protective detail.

Later Tuesday, he spoke at a press conference regarding a residential explosion and fire in the Bronx. When a reporter asked Adams about his recent comments about subway crime. 

"On Day One I took the subway system, I felt unsafe. I saw homeless everywhere. People were yelling on the trains. There was a feeling of disorder," Adams said. "So as we deal with the crime problem, we also have to deal with the fact people feel unsafe."

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A mentally ill homeless man is accused of pushing Michelle Go, 40, onto the subway tracks to her death at the Times Square station on Saturday. In the wake of the killing, subway riders seem to be taking extra precautions standing in the middle of the platform as far away as possible from the rails. FOX 5 NY saw some leaning their backs against a wall or pole and holding on for safety. 

"I always stand against some kind of surface so no one can push me and I don't really wear headphones anymore," one rider said. 

Michael Sapraicone, a former NYPD detective who worked as a transit cop and now owns Squad Security, said the subway can seem scary after these kinds of incidents but they are very rare.

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"As a police officer walking on subway stations, I would always try to keep my back to the wall," Sapraicone said. "I pushed myself back towards the wall and then I edged forward as the train came in so I could walk down the platform to make sure nothing was going on or somebody was rushing onto a train."

Sapraicone said he advises riders to be aware of who is around them, stay in well-lit areas, and know where the station clerk is.

Acting MTA CEO Janno Lieber said Adams' comments about not feeling safe show "that he gets it" even if, statistically, one's chances of being a victim of crime in the subway system are low. 

"The mayor is showing he gets it and he is sensitive to the way New Yorkers are feeling," Lieber said. "People don't feel based on statistics. They feel based on their personal experience and what they're hearing."

The governor and the mayor recently said more cops would be assigned to patrol the platforms and ride the trains.

With FOX 5 NY's Sharon Crowley and The Associated Press.