New Yorkers still feel afraid despite a drop in crime, even though NYPD officers received more than $150 million in overtime for subway patrols

The New York Police Department has significantly increased its overtime expenditure for subway patrols this year, totaling over $150 million, a substantial rise from the $4 million spent in 2022. This investment appears to be yielding positive results, as recent data indicates a downturn in felony crime in the subway system, despite an increase in ridership in 2023.

According to the latest NYPD data, there have been 2,194 felony crimes reported in the transit system so far this year, marking about a 2 percent decline from the 2,245 reported at the same point in 2022. This decrease in crime comes as subway ridership has surged to 1.1 billion commuters this year, up from 976 million last year. As a result, the overall per capita crime rate in the subway system has plunged 14 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year.

This increased police presence and the accompanying rise in overtime costs are part of a broader subway safety plan initiated by Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul. This plan, aimed at managing not only crime but also the homeless population in stations and trains, has been dubbed “Cops, Cameras, and Care.” The state has reimbursed the city for about $62 million of the $151 million spent, reflecting a significant commitment to this initiative.

While the data shows a reduction in major crimes such as murders, rapes, and robberies, there has been a noticeable increase in burglaries and felony assaults. Additionally, misdemeanor assaults have risen by about 19 percent, and petit larcenies have spiked by nearly 27 percent.

Despite these improvements, there is still a debate about the long-term efficacy of the NYPD’s increased subway presence. Some within the police force question whether merely having a higher number of officers in the subway system, often on forced overtime, is the most effective strategy. They advocate for a more focused approach, targeting stations and lines with persistent crime and disorder.

Public perception is also mixed. A recent MTA ridership survey revealed that over 60% of subway users would like to see more police presence, while about 30% feel the current level is adequate, and only 10% believe there are too many officers. Personal accounts from commuters like Rosa, a home care attendant in Brooklyn, and Sarah Cora, an engineer in Manhattan, express concerns about safety and the actual deployment of officers in the subway system.

Mayor Adams has lauded the city’s efforts to improve subway safety, emphasizing that the increased police presence and operational changes have contributed to the overall reduction in crime. As the city moves into 2024, this focus on subway safety continues to be a key element in New York’s broader strategy for urban recovery and public welfare.

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