More cameras or more cops? NYC tackles rising subway crime rates

Officials are crediting security cameras for the arrest of three people accused in last week's Bronx subway shooting -- as MTA workers and commuters alike voice concern over a spike in NYC subway crime.

"We have more cameras than a Las Vegas casino in our system," said Richard Davey, president of New York City Transit. "We have three clear shots of the perpetrators of the shooting because we have cameras. If you do something bad in our system, we will find you."

A Metropolitan Transit Authority subway rider passes under a security camera at the Times Square station in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. (Peter Foley/Getty Images)

The NYPD and MTA are celebrating the arrest of two men and a woman after 45-year-old William Alvarez was shot early Friday morning on a southbound D train as it pulled into the 182-183 Streets station.

They said images of the suspects – Justin Herde, 24, Betty Cotto, 38, and Alfredo Trinidad, 42 – were all clearly captured on cameras.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has also vowed to install security cameras on every train and platform, much to the appreciation of investigators.

"January was a challenging month for us at the bureau," NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said.

Crime was 45% higher this January compared to 2023, with grand larceny being the main driver, according to the NYPD.

And while arrests are up and cops are cracking down on fare evaders, officers patrolling the trains recovered 17 guns in the last month. That's triple the amount last year.

Meanwhile, police made more than 250 arrests for other weapons -- a 44% increase.

"We've got individuals roaming the subway with guns with weapons. Our police officers are being assaulted," said Charlton D'souza, president of transportation advocacy group Passengers United.

Transit workers aren't happy either, saying that MTA executives are deliberately downplaying the problem.

"We feel that Janno Lieber and the MTA has to do more and they have to not make these outrageous statements that the subway system crimes are down. because it is not obviously, as you can see," said Richard Davis, the President of TWU Local 100.

So far this year, seven MTA employees have been assaulted. Four people, who have 50 prior arrests among themselves, have been arrested.

"Fifty strikes seem like a lot of god**** strikes," Davey said. "We got to do something to keep our people safe.

In response, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban have deployed 1,000+ officers to the subway system every day since February. They said the surge is a similar strategy to how they reversed the crime trend last year. 

But the implication: To really keep the subways safe, those in charge of sentencing recidivist criminals -- the state's legislators-- need to reconsider bail reform laws.

"We're making arrests at record highs," Kemper said. "The question is: Why are we arresting people 50 times, 100 times? At what point is there going to be consequences?"

The NYPD claimed that increasing the number of cops in the subway system led to a 17% decrease in crime.