Soaring subway crime is more than enough reason to add more MTA police

A man follows a teen girl from car to car on the 6 train — then slashes her in the head. A stranger beats a blind man in a Queens station, simply over an accidental touch by his cane. A woman fends off a would-be rapist in a Brooklyn subway bathroom. An angry passenger hits a 65-year-old bus driver in East New York in the face with a metal padlock.

Yet some still oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to add 500 cops to the MTA’s police force.

Those are a small sample of the criminal incidents the MTA has seen in the first six weeks of 2020. Crime is up 34 percent over last year, per the Transit Bureau’s latest CompStat report, with robbery more than doubling, from 37 incidents by this time in 2019 to 79 so far in 2020. Arrests are down by 28 percent.

We’re still far from the bad old days, but the trend isn’t good. Graffiti is on the upswing, with entire trains covered in tags having to be taken off the tracks. The number of homeless sleeping in the subways rose 20 percent in a year.

After a major, years-long repair push, trains are running much closer to on-time, but ridership won’t rise if the subways don’t feel safe.

A few radicals (mostly kids who don’t know how bad things can get) are up in arms over a couple of videos that show NYPD subway cops cracking down on an illegal vendor and swarming misbehaving teens. But most people know the answer is more smart policing — not the “no police” sought by the Decolonize This Place vandals.

Indeed, private polling reportedly shows 73 percent of New Yorkers want more cops in the subways, vs. 21 percent who don’t.

Cuomo called for 500 more MTA cops in November, to bring the force up above 1,200 by year’s end. The agency has already sworn in 138, most ex-NYPD and all certified State Police officers. MTAPD leadership is spreading them throughout the subways and buses and railroad systems, based on current security conditions.

Yes, the NYPD can also deploy more officers through the transit system — but adding to the MTAPD relieves some of the pressure at a time when crime is rising citywide. Plus, it’s not an expense for the city government — and the Citizens Budget Commission estimates the new hires will cost $1 billion over a decade, though the MTA puts it at about half that.

Just to be clear: Putting more police into the system isn’t about boosting arrests, it’s about reducing crime to boost safety for passengers and workers — and safety is the foundation for all other services.

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