NEW YORK - The war of perceptions continues this week with Mayor Bill de Blasio insisting the subways are safe, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who oversees the MTA, saying it isn't.
"There is a philosophical difference," Cuomo said. "I see crime in the subways as a major problem."
Looking at the numbers, the NYPD says overall crime has dropped in the subways. But ridership has dropped by about twice as much, leaving the MTA to point out that riders are now about twice as likely to be victims of crime. The transit union, TWU Local 100, agreed with the MTA pointing to a 44% increase in felony assaults over the past three years, based on NYPD data.
The city faces a similar crisis above ground with a 160% increase in shootings in April compared with the same month last year.
Some say crime has suddenly become the defining issue of the mayoral race, just six weeks before New Yorkers cast their ballots in the primaries.
Cuomo is already looking to the next mayor for solutions.
"It's not just crime in the subways — it's crime in the city. And that is what I think should be a top topic in this mayoral debate," Cuomo said. "What are you going to do about crime in the cities?"
An hour before the governor spoke on Monday, the candidates were already on it. Mayoral candidate and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stood outside the subway station where a woman was viciously attacked last week to detail his plan. Flocked by supporters, including transit workers, Adams called for an investment in bystander training, increasing the number of psychiatric beds in the city, and strengthening Kendra's law, which allows judges to order certain individuals with mental illness to receive outpatient treatment.
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"Judges, do your job," Adams said. "It's time to use Kendra's law to deal with the mental health crisis that we are seeing."
The New York Post just endorsed the former transit cop in the race. (Adams retired from the NYPD as a captain.)
On Sunday in Times Square, mayoral candidate Andrew Yang stood by the scene of the brazen daytime shooting this weekend that injured three, including a 4-year-old girl. Yang vowed to reduce the city's homeless population by 50% in his first term. And in a time for calls to "defund the police," Yang issued a clear message to the police.
"Nothing works in our city without public safety," Yang said. "And for public safety, we need the police."