MANHATTAN – More than a dozen red-bereted gentlemen and ladies of the 37-year-old group known as the Guardian Angels boarded the B train at Columbus Circle after a surge in subway crime, a 35 percent increase over the last year, with a 100 percent increase in subway slashings just last month, with six in January.
"It's been a month of Sundays since I saw police officers in the subway cars," Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, told PIX11, as he led a dozen fellow angels into the subway station at Columbus Circle.
But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton doesn't think a handful of angels will really make a difference.
Instead Bratton is proposing that serial subway predators be banned from all trains and buses as a condition of their parole:
"There's a cadre of career professional criminals, some of these people have been around for 20 or 30 years, have been arrested hundreds of times by us," Bratton said on The John Gambling Show on AM 970 The Answer.
"Some of the career recidivist criminals use the subways to prey on victims," Bratton said. "We must find some way of excluding them from the subways as a condition of their parole."
And while the commissioner says the legalities of a subway ban for career criminals may be an issue for the State Legislature to deal with, the president of the Citizens Crime Commission says the ban sounds like a great idea.
"The reality is if somebody preys on innocent subway riders, they should be banned from the subway," said Richard Aborn, the president of the commission.
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg added: "The MTA's top concern is always the safety and security of our customers and employees. We will have to see more details about what is being proposed and evaluate the legal and policy concerns involved."