With three separate subway slashings in the last week giving straphangers an anxiety complex to start 2016—both the Times and Post say NYers are "on edge," so who are we to argue—the NYPD has reportedly come up with a slightly radical way to curb the violence: by banning "career criminals" from being underground.
The NY Post reports that the plan was brought up at a Manhattan South Compstat meeting on Friday, and that NYPD brass will draft a formal proposal for the MTA to consider. Not that they haven't tried before: "NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox said that he had already had many discussions about barring these individuals from transit with the MTA, but the MTA told him there was nothing that they could do about it by law," a law-enforcement source told the Post.
To get around the thorny legal issues involving such a banishment, the NYPD reportedly wants to issue the worst offenders an order of protection barring them from entering MTA property—if someone was caught breaking the order, they could then be arrested immediately. As it stands now, a handful of repeat offenders are already "banned from subways as part of parole or probation deals, but they cannot be arrested on sight and instead have to be reported to their case officers."
As an example of the kind of criminal they would be targeting, cops pointed to transit recidivist and serial sex offender Roger Reid, who had at least 24 prior arrests before he was picked up once again in December after he allegedly groped five women's butts at Columbus Circle.
The Post cited the latest NYPD statistics, noting that felony crimes in the subway "have soared 35 percent over the same time last year, and assaults have nearly tripled from 11 to 31 year-to-date through Thursday." In addition, police say there have been five subway slashings so far this year, compared with three over the same period in 2015.
Among those incidents: 71-year-old Carmen Rivera was slashed in the face on a D train in Greenwich Village on Monday; 32-year-old Christopher Santiago was slashed on a 6 train as it passed through Harlem on Tuesday night; and Ras Alula Nagarit was arrested for allegedly slashing a woman on a 3 train also on Tuesday night.
Police Commissioner Bratton toured the subways on Friday morning and declared them to be safe: "It is a very safe subway system," he told reporters. "They jam in like sardines. It’s amazing anybody can assault anybody because you can’t really move on some of those cars."
— Commissioner Bratton (@CommissBratton) January 28, 2016
We've contacted the MTA for comment about the potential proposal.