MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Mayor Eric Adams announced his new “subway safety plan” on Friday, laying out how his administration will address security underground while providing new support for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness in the system.
Joined by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and MTA CEO and Chair Janno Lieber, Adams said the new plan was the second phase of a joint initiative with the NYPD that he and Hochul first announced in early January.
“The subway system and our bus system are the lifeblood of our city. If we don’t get them right, our city won’t continue to recover from COVID,” Adams said.
According to the mayor, the plan includes investments in short- and medium-term solutions to the challenges that turn New Yorkers away from public transit when they do not feel safe.
As part of the plan, the city will deploy up to 30 joint response teams that will reach out to those experiencing homelessness. The outreach teams will bring together members of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the NYPD and community-based providers in high-need areas.
That initial contact will be followed up with mental health support, as well as help with finding housing and beds. Plus, this process will be streamlined in an attempt to reduce the amount of paperwork it takes for individuals to prove eligibility, according to Adams’ office.
The city will also expand the “B-HEARD” pilot program (Behavioral Health Emergency Assitance Response Division) to six new precincts, bringing the total precincts covered to 11. These teams answer non-violent 911 mental health calls with mental health professionals, instead of uniformed officers.
Additionally, expanded DHS Safe Havens and stabilization bed programs for the homeless will offer on-site physical and behavioral health care, in an effort to immediately address clients’ needs, the mayor’s office said.
The city will be creating new “drop-in centers” in an effort to provide an immediate opportunity for the unsheltered to come indoors, instead of heading down into the subway system. Effort will be made to place some of these locations close to key subway stations to help transition individuals from trains and platforms to safe spaces, the mayor’s office said.
In addition to a visible increase in NYPD officers in stations and on trains, all transit officers will be trained and expected to enforce the MTA and NYC Transit Authority’s rules of conduct in a fair way, according to officials. Plus, it will become a requirement, not a request, for everyone to leave the train and station at the end of the line.
Adams said there will also be weekly meetings bringing together senior leaders from 13 city and state agencies to areas issues quickly.
The city also called on the state government to expand psychiatric bed resources, as well as to amend Kendra’s Law to improve the court-ordered mental health care and resources for New Yorkers receiving assisted outpatient treatment. This treatment is for certain people with mental illness who are deemed unlikely to survive safely on their own without supervision, according to the state.
The new initiatives come after a string of violent, and sometimes deadly, incidents underground in recent months.
A breakdancer was stabbed multiple times by a homeless man Thursday aboard an L train in Brooklyn police said. Days earlier, a subway passenger was robbed at knifepoint on an E train in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Back in January, a woman was pushed to her death in front of a subway train in Times Square.
You can read the mayor’s “subway safety plan” in full here.