NEW YORK — Several labor unions and leaders of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) have called for an increase in police presence on New York City’s subway system.
Unions representing thousands of workers who use and work on the transit system sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling for a “strong and safe mass transit system.”
“Right now, many of our members don’t feel safe riding or working in mass transit. This is unacceptable. And we know that as a city, we can do better,” officials wrote.
“No one should be afraid to use these basic transit services, especially the heroic women and men in our ranks, who have sacrificed so much to keep the City going during one of its darkest hours.”
The letter, signed by presidents of several labor unions, has asked for the mayor’s administration to increase the number of uniformed officers in the transit system, “at least in the short term.”
“Stationing cops at the turnstiles helps no one. We need extra police who are actually visible to riders to help deter crime,” the letter said.
The unions are also asking the de Blasio administration to work with the New York Transit to understand which stations are seeing the greatest challenges with mental health and drug use and deploy mental health teams to these areas and locations.
The city and MTA have pledged to work together with homeless services.
Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg and the MTA have also called for more NYPD members in the city’s subways following recent attacks on transit workers.
Bus operators and station personnel have been assaulted, attacked and harassed in the past year.
Feinberg said “it makes a lot of sense” that labor unions are calling for more police presence.
“Now is really an important moment for New York to come back,” she said.
When asked if police officers stationed at transit systems would be fighting crime or easing fears, Feinberg said they would be doing both.
Not only are officers needed to deter crime, people will likely feel more at ease if they see more officers at stations.
“Perception matters,” she said.