Crime on New York City subways has dropped since more police officers flooded the system in October, issuing thousands more summonses and making hundreds more arrests, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Friday.
Major subway crime has declined by 16% since 1,200 additional cops were assigned to the transit system, according to new NYPD data. The subway crime rate is also returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Adams hailed the numbers, saying they demonstrated the city and state’s response to public safety concerns, a signature issue the mayor has prioritized since entering office.
“If my house is burning, don't come to me and talk about fire prevention strategies,” he said Friday. “Put out the fire, and then let’s engage in a conversation about how do you prevent future fires. We had a blazing fire in our subway system.”
More than 11,000 summonses were issued just last month — roughly 89% higher than in December 2021, according to NYPD data. Arrests also jumped dramatically. There were 850 arrests last month compared to 579 in December 2021 – a 47% increase.
Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said the past three months had seen the second-lowest overall crime rate in the subways since the NYPD began tracking the data.
Kemper’s declaration echoes one made by then-Chief of Department Kenneth Corey in September of last year. Corey said subway crime was “at or near an all-time low.” His remarks were followed by a spike in murders that prompted the surge of 1,200 officers in the subways in October – which Hochul and Adams now cite as the reason for the latest decline in crime.
The NYPD did not respond to an inquiry regarding the data cited by Kemper.
But statistics from the NYPD’s Transit Bureau show a complicated picture. Though officials celebrated progress made over the last three months, there was a 4.6% uptick in major felonies last month compared to the same period in 2021, driven largely by felony assaults.
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said on Friday that ridership has increased by 35% compared to the same time last year. Daily weekday ridership for the subway and Staten Island Rail Road was still far below pre-pandemic levels this week, hovering close to 60% of ridership in 2019, per agency data.
The statistics show people are less likely to commit crimes on crowded subways.
“We've been making real progress,” Hochul said at the Fulton Street station in the Financial District. “Now, we'll stand here — we'll say we're never finished. As long as there's any crime being committed, we will never say 'mission accomplished.' Those words will never come from our lips.”
Efforts to reduce crime by both the Hochul and Adams administrations have been met with criticism from progressive groups, who say police are not the solution to crimes like farebeating, which are driven by poverty.
Last February, Adams ordered the NYPD to remove homeless people sleeping on trains.
“No more just doing whatever you want,” Adams declared at the time.
Some advocates voiced skepticism after Friday’s announcement, saying other issues — like improving train service and delivering critical funding to the cash-strapped MTA — were going unaddressed.
"Riders are still waiting to hear a plan for service as much as a plan for safety from Gov. Hochul, who controls the MTA,” Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said in a statement.
“Trains and buses coming every 15 or 20 minutes does not make us safer, no matter what other policies are in place. The governor's budget must deliver sustainable transit funding that results in more service, not less.”