Random Bag Checks, Banned From Subway For 3 Years, More: Gov. Hochul’s Five Point Plan To Keep NYC Subway Riders Safe

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Governor Hochul Announces Five-Point Plan to Protect New Yorkers on the Subway

Editor’s note: Random subway bag checks were challenged in 2009 by the ACLU. There was no ruling on the constitutionality of the law, as a settlement was reached for $10,000. 

1,000 New York State Police, MTAPD and the New York National Guard to Support NYPD Bag Checks

Governor Hochul Introduces Bill to Allow Judges to Ban Individuals Convicted of Assault Within the Transit System from Services


MTA to Accelerate Camera Installation Throughout the System, Adding New Cameras to Protect Conductor Cabins

Governor to Convene the New Subway Violence Strategic Partnership (SVSP) to Improve Coordination Between State, NYPD, and District Attorneys

State to Expand Subway Outreach Initiative, Program Will Operate in Addition to Safe Options Support Teams

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a five-point plan to utilize state resources to protect New Yorkers on the subways. This includes surging State personnel to assist NYPD bag checks, a new program bill that would permit transit bans for individuals that assault other passengers, adding new cameras to protect conductor cabins, increasing coordination between District Attorneys and law enforcement, and increasing the number of Subway Co-Response Outreach (SCOUT) teams throughout the system – which will operate in addition to the existing Safe Options Support (SOS) teams.

These actions build on the Governor’s unprecedented investment in safety on the subways, from standing up SOS teams to directing the MTA to install cameras in every subway car. Governor Hochul also called on judges to use their expanded discretion to set bail to keep repeat offenders off the streets.

“Since taking office, I have been laser-focused on driving down subway crime and protecting New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “My five-point plan will rid our subways of violent offenders and protect all commuters and transit workers. I am sending a message to all New Yorkers: I will not stop working to keep you safe and restore your peace of mind whenever you walk through those turnstiles.”

 

Governor Hochul’s five-point plan includes:

Additional State Personnel to Assist NYPD

To supplement the NYPD’s enhanced baggage checks at heavily trafficked areas, Governor Hochul is deploying 1,000 members of State personnel to assist the NYPD’s mission to further this effort. This includes 250 members from the New York State Police and the MTA Police Department. In addition, Governor Hochul is directing the National Guard to make the 750 members currently deployed on Joint Task Force Empire Shield available to supplement this effort under the supervision of law enforcement. These checks will be targeted at heavily trafficked locations.

New Program Bill to Ban Assaulters of Commuters and Transit Workers

Governor Hochul today announced a new program bill that will allow judges to ban people convicted of an assault within the system from using MTA services as part of sentencing.


There is currently a provision that allows a transit ban as a term of sentencing for individuals who assault transit workers, and under Governor Hochul’s plan, this same provision would be extended to include assaults of anyone within the system.

Improving Coordination Between Law Enforcement and District Attorneys

To improve coordination between law enforcement, transit personnel, and district attorneys, Governor Hochul will initiate regular meetings between stakeholders to coordinate information sharing regarding holding dangerous, repeat offenders within the system accountable.

This will assist district attorneys with their casework and support existing efforts to keep violent offenders off the streets and out of the subways. The first meeting will take place next week, and will be held regularly to ensure sustained coordination.

To assist with this process, the MTA will also hire a new Criminal Justice Advocate to assist the victims of crime in the system, and MTAPD will develop a new early warning system to flag recidivist offenders for district attorney offices during booking processes.

New Cameras to Protect Conductors and Staff

Building on Governor Hochul’s announcement that MTA is accelerating the installation of cameras inside customer areas of trains, today Governor Hochul is announcing the installation of new cameras focused on conductor cabins to protect workers. These cameras will significantly assist law enforcement personnel as they search for assailants targeting transit workers. Governor Hochul is directing MTA to rapidly deploy these cameras throughout the system.

$20 Million to Expand the SCOUT Pilot in Addition to the SOS Program

Since January, MTA has deployed a SCOUT team pilot program in partnership with New York City, in addition to the successful SOS teams across the subway system, established and supported by Governor Hochul. SCOUT teams have the capacity to address the most severe cases of mental health crisis within the subway system, and assist New Yorkers in gaining access to mental health treatment and supportive housing. Governor Hochul is directing $20 million to rapidly scale this pilot and bring the total number of SCOUT teams to ten by the end of 2025.

I am sending a message to all New Yorkers: I will not stop working to keep you safe and restore your peace of mind whenever you walk through those turnstiles.”

Governor Kathy Hochul

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “Since last year, we’ve installed thousands of new cameras within stations and on-board trains – adding to our already-vast network of 10,000 devices, which have been proven time and time again to lead to police apprehensions and even deter crime.

“And now, we’re moving forward with cameras in conductor cabs to address the risks our brave conductors and operators are facing. We can’t afford to not act. The transit system is too important to the City and region to allow the perception of safety, or lack of it, to scare people away.”

State Police Acting Superintendent Steven G. James said, “I commend Governor Hochul for putting forth this comprehensive plan to improve the safety of our subway system. Collectively, with our law enforcement partners, we can tackle this problem and ensure a safer New York for all.”

MTAPD Chief of Operations Thomas Taffe said, “I know that a focus on reducing the fear of crime is as important as reducing crime itself. We now have officers at commuter hubs in all five boroughs, officers working overnight clearing trains, working with homeless outreach partners across different agencies in all corners of the city. We’re focused on using data to respond to the issues that most affect riders – feelings of disorder, fare evasion, and persons acting violently in emotional distress.”

Adjutant General of the New York National Guard Major General Ray Shields said, “The service members of the New York National Guard are always ready to assist our partners as they ensure the safety and security of our fellow citizens.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “New York’s subways are the beating heart that keeps our city moving, and the safety of riders and MTA employees is a top priority for my office. The comprehensive plan proposed by Governor Hochul will help us achieve that goal and I thank her for the leadership and ongoing commitment to public safety. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with all of our partners to fight crime on public transportation.”

Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, “A safe and fully functioning mass transit system is indispensable to life in and around New York City. For the tens of thousands of Staten Islanders who rely on our local and express buses, ferries and the ferry terminals, and the Staten Island Railroad to get to work, to school, to care for a loved one, or to merely run their daily errands, they deserve nothing less than the safest experience possible.

“I am grateful to Governor Hochul for the efforts being announced today; it is welcome news for all Staten Islanders. My team is eager to work with these new personnel and new technologies to both keep repeat violent offenders off our buses and trains, and to build the strongest possible cases against those who break the law and harm our quality of life. In the year ahead, I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Hochul on vital public safety priorities like this not only in the New York City region, but across the state on behalf of the District Attorneys Association of New York as well.”

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “I appreciate Governor Hochul’s prioritizing transit safety, and I look forward to working with her and all stakeholders to make sure our commuters are not fearful to ride the subways, buses and Metro North, and our hardworking transit employees are safe on the job. The transportation system is the lifeblood of the city. My Office works with the NYPD and I welcome a partnership with state law enforcement as well to increase safety and security, and to hold people accountable for crime and provide services for those who need them.”

Banner Image: Governor Hochul Announces Five-Point Plan to Protect New Yorkers on the Subway. Image Credit – Gov. Hochul


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Governor Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul began her career in public service on her local Town Board before serving as Erie County Clerk, and then as a member of Congress for New York’s 26th Congressional District. She more recently served in statewide office as Lieutenant Governor and now as the first female Governor of the State of New York.

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