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MTA Board Approves Hiring 500 Additional Police Officers, Despite Lawmakers’ Objections

Churro vendor Elsa before being handcuffed by police last month (Twitter @sofiabnewman)

Dec. 18, 2019 By Allie Griffin

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board approved the hiring of 500 additional transit police officers Wednesday, despite opposition from several local lawmakers.

The board voted to approve the authority’s $17 billion budget for 2020, which included funding for the additional officers — an expected $249 million over the next four years, according to the authority’s own estimates.

The hirings will add to the nearly 2,500 NYPD officers who patrol the transit system and is on top of the MTA’s existing police force of nearly 800 officers.

A day earlier, three Queens lawmakers called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to ditch his plans to hire the additional transit police officers and instead use to the money to improve subway and bus service.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos, along with three other lawmakers, penned a letter to Cuomo on Tuesday arguing that MTA enforcement often unfairly targets low income and minority communities and that they money should be put to better use.

“In our view, desperately needed resources would be better invested in subway, bus, maintenance and service improvements, as well as protecting riders and transit workers from assault rather than in the over-policing of our communities,” the politicians wrote in the letter.

Cuomo’s proposal to ramp up MTA enforcement is meant to address quality of life crimes and fare evasion, but the lawmakers said that “arresting hard-working people who cannot afford a $2.75 fare is, in effect, the criminalization of poverty.”

They also say the hiring spree is unnecessary as overall crime on subways has decreased, citing NYPD statistics.

Instead of focusing their energy on catching turnstile hoppers, existing police should focus on protecting transit workers from an uptick in assault, the elected officials urged.

“Instead of patrolling the turnstile, existing police officers should focus on the threats faced by MTA employees,” they wrote in the letter.

The lawmakers noted the highly publicized recent arrest of a churro vendor and the arrest and tasering of a teenager at subway stations, which sparked transit advocates and elected officials to rally against the governor’s plan for 500 new officers last month.

The letter was also signed by Representatives José Serrano and Jerrold Nadler and State Senator Luis Sepúlveda.

Following the board’s decision to approve the hiring, Riders Alliance Police and Communications Director Danny Pearlstein criticized the governor, calling the new hires “the governor’s cops.”

“Today, Governor Cuomo saddled the MTA with a new police force it can’t afford and doesn’t need,” Pearlstein said. “He made that decision in the face of all evidence, arguments, and diverse voices in opposition.”

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31 Comments

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Maluana Karenga

They don’t like the idea The MTA police will have more latitude in enforcement than the city police. The silly Civilian complaint review board has no jurisdiction over them. Kudos to the 400 nyc cops that got hired by them great career move financially and job security

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Harris Milstead

Hey genius call the MTA police Hq’s 400 out of the 500 hires were picked form the nypd and other agencies. The naughty naughty ccrb has no authority over them /

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Gardens Watcher

We need better service and more police on the trains and in the stations. Shouldn’t be a choice between better service and more cops.

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pat macnamara

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos don’t ride the subways. If they did, they would see criminal activity on a daily basis with homeless and mentally ill people assaulting civilians. Once you swipe that metro card you are on your own. The arrest of the churro lady and other cries of racism for targeting farebeaters is a smokescreen to divert attention from the actual insanity in the system.

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John

Which line are you riding ? I’m on the N and A 5 days a week at minimum for well over a decade and I’ve never seen any assaulted . You see this daily? What time? Which train ?

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Pat Macnamara

Would you like a medal for being a survivor?? Wake up my friend. Police are needed with violent homeless who carry razor blades, the showtimers who assault people when they say anything, and the usual subhuman scum that preys on the idiots who have their heads buried in their phones.

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Pat Macnamaracist we can address this too

Agreed, multiple types of crimes exist in the world.

However, crime is down on the subway. Crime in the subway is what’s being discussed here. Are your glasses on?

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Pat Macnamara

Do you ride the subways? I have been riding for the past 5 decades. Crime is down as there is NO ONE To report it too. People are assaulted daily. Muggings are on the rise. Please remove your head from your liberal agenda. it will get much worse when bail reform is in full effect too. But you probably take ridesharing or ride your fixie everywhere.

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Ok Boomer

You have an anecdote?! All the stats must be wrong.

Did your grandson tell you what a “fixie” is?

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Common sense

Since when did ageism has become a norm? Aren’t we supposed be nice to each other regardless of ethnic origin or age? Isn’t it even illegal in some ways?

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David

We don’t want them, we don’t need them, we don’t want to pay for them, but Cuomo sticks them on us.

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Laura

What BS!!! Just what we need in the subway is 500 more cops busting churro ladies! Crime is down all over the city!

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Ayn

This is not a solution. I take different buses in Harlem.. M100, M101, M11, etc.. People use back doors to get on to the buses to not to pay. Some of them are aggressive and don’t even let people to get off first to get a free ride..
Commuting became a nightmare.. I got rid off my car because of traffic, parking.. Then the bicycle after a few near fatal accidents.. Subway is getting a bit better, but buses SUCK!

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Eleni

Just arm transit workers and undercover subway riders with pepper spray or mace and it would be a lot safer and cheaper for the state.

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Nick

I hope this will get more people to use the subway instead of driving to visit Astoria. The amount of traffic due to cars and taxis is ridiculous around here.

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Harry Bingham IV

Support Assembly bill A05498 – S5416 and Divide New York now!

newamsterdamny.org

It’s time.

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Denise

Just another example of how more non-whites and poor people are and will continue to be targeted by white politicians and cops.

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More of your conversation would infect my brain.

Those suffering non-whites and other “poor” people can’t afford $2.75 each way but don’t worry about the $1000 cell phone and $200 sneakers that they really need in order to survive. I supposed saying that though is racist and not the truth right?

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White people can be poor too

Why are Trump lovers obsessed with going on cute little rants against black people? Hmmmm

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Luna

I wish they would also hire cops on foot patrol in Astoria. It would make walking around the neighborhood a lot safer.

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Grace

I hope they’ll not be cracking down on the homeless in the subway. There are so many on Ditmars that a crackdown would mean even more sleeping in our neighborhood.

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