Gotham Gazette

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Adams 2021: In-depth - Safe Subways

The Subway Safety Plan

Our city is just starting to come back from the pandemic. Progress cannot be derailed by  crime and New Yorkers living in fear of being slashed, roundhouse punched, or robbed on  their way to work or on their way home. Real concerns about subway safety are making  too many New Yorkers hesitant to return to mass transit. Sustained declines in ridership  will crush struggling small businesses, reduce investment in our city, and harm tourism —  all of which will ultimately hit working-class New Yorkers hardest. I have said it time and  time again: Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity. 

We are continually seeing violent attacks in our subways, threatening the lives and  well-being of New Yorkers as well as our recovery. To halt this surge in subway crime in its  tracks, we don’t just need more officers assigned to high-traffic areas — we also need  better force deployment to create a more visible police presence and cover more area  across the system. My “Safe Subways” subway redeployment plan will better use existing  units to more effectively address this crime crisis. Additionally, we must immediately  increase the number of City mental health beds and workers to effectively and swiftly  address this crime problem, make New Yorkers feel safe again, and create a welcoming  city that will attract visitors and new investment. Tackling this problem requires both  intervention of existing threats and prevention of future harm, and this city must be  committed to both. We can and must deliver safer conditions on our subway trains and  platforms while providing the compassionate short-term and long-term care for those  suffering from mental health crises, who often are both the perpetrators and victims of  subway crime. 


  • Redeployment of some officers in the anti-terror, K-9, and metro fraud units to patrols,  as well as of officers in administrative roles at NYPD Transit headquarters, whose jobs  there can be done by civilians; 
  • More active oversight of units that could have a more significant presence, such as the  midnight train unit that is meant to focus on sleeping and intoxicated passengers; 
  • Capital investment in improved cell service and Wi-Fi, as well as upgraded cameras at  every station; 
  • Real-time 24-hour video surveillance monitoring of all high-crime stations; • Re-funding of the transit homeless outreach unit; 
  • Strengthened use of Kendra’s Law — a State law that grants judges authority to issue  orders for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment to individuals with serious  mental health issues — and work with Albany lawmakers on reforms to justly expand how  it can be applied, including greater clarity on conditions and conduct that demonstrate a  person is a danger to themselves; 
  • Partnered teams of trained mental health professionals with existing police patrolsof the  subway system, conducting routine inspections and engaging with people struggling  with mental health crises with a focus on the city’s most highly-trafficked stations; 


  • Increase of inpatient psychiatric beds, working to repeal the Medicaid exclusion that  effectively prohibits billing from specialized psychiatric hospitals as well as halting the  State’s decertification of existing beds; 
  • Creation of more medical respite beds, provided by crisis stabilization centers that offer  short-term care for unhoused New Yorkers who are not sick enough to stay in the  hospital, but are too sick to return to a shelter or the streets; 
  • Expansion of psychosocial rehab services, known popularly as the “clubhouse model”  that combines a physical community center environment with access to social services  that holistically address the housing, employment, education, social, and health needs  of members. 
  • Expediting the construction of supportive housing units, moving up by five years the  timeline of the City’s 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative, which currently aims to create  15,000 units of supportive housing in 15 years.

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