NEW YORK (PIX11) — Leaders around the New York City and state are doubling down on safety improvements throughout the subway system.
The major expanded safety initiatives announced Saturday comes as subway crime around the five boroughs is on the rise. Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul, the NYPD and MTA want to ensure riders across all five boroughs are safe despite heightened violence underground.
So far this year, police have investigated nine homicides in the subway system, including four in the last few weeks. The right safety plan, emphasizing cops, cameras and care — that’s mental health help for those who need it — can hep prevent homicides, leaders said.
Shams DaBaron, best known as “Da Homeless Hero,” is an advocate for those struggling to find a permanent home. Once homeless and living in shelters or on the streets, he now volunteers his time working alongside the Adams administration in developing better resources for the homeless.
“We can’t just leave people in distress in the streets. We can’t just leave them out there like that,” DaBaron said.
DaBaron says the newly announced subway safety plan is a great initiative.
“I speak from someone who knows to descend to mental illness to the point you want to harm someone else, thank God that never happened,” DaBaron said. “I’m here today as that example of someone who can go from that point but with the right services become a productive member of our society.”
The plan also promises to add two new treatment programs for the homeless with severe mental illness. The first unit is scheduled to open at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Nov. 1.
“The idea we can re-introduce those beds in facilities for people with high level of care is absolutely essential,” DaBaron said.
In addition to homeless resources, the NYPD and MTA will increase officer presence on platforms by 1,200 additional overtime officer shifts each day. Riders will see officers in at least 300 stations during peak hours. Plus, the MTA will place unarmed guards to increase security and stop fare beaters.
DaBaron says these combined measures will help keep riders out of harms way while keeping a closer eye on those who could use an extra hand.
“If you can attach us to the services, we can be able to do things that would stabilize us so we can come back to society, go to work and be productive members of society,” DaBaron said.