MTA votes to hire more cops

18 of 21 MTA board members voted Wednesday in favor of hiring 500 additional MTA Police officers to patrol the New York City subway, the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North trains.

MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the influx of new officers will help fill already-open positions and replace officers who are leaving or retiring. The new officers will be an increase of 40 to 60 officers per shift across the entire sprawling system, already patrolled by 35,000 members of the NYPD.

"One of the positive impacts of that is a likely reduction in police overtime," MTA chairman Pat Foye said.

The goal is to crack down on crime and people who are jumping turnstiles to avoid paying.  That costs the transit agency millions of dollars a year.

Another concern is the rise in assaults against transit workers.


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However, the plan has its critics who say the money should be spent on improving service instead of law enforcement.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, asking him not to hire the additional officers, claiming any extra policing would disproportionately target people of color.

She called crimes in the subway as "low-level, victimless crimes" and fears "over-policing" by police officers "brutalizing individuals in our subway".

According to the NYPD, people of color accounted for 85 percent of fare evasion arrests this year.

"Arresting hard-working people who cannot afford a $2.75 fare is, in effect, the criminalization of poverty," Ocasio-Cortez stated.

"That is hardly the militarization of the subways," Foye countered.

While Foye framed the $249M approved to hire the 500 officers as just one-third of one percent of the just-passed budget, the Rider’s Alliance argued that the MTA might instead use the money to increase midday and weekend subway service by 15 percent.