NEW YORK — After weeks of violence in the city subway system, the NYPD has assigned 500 additional officers underground.
Wednesday, the MTA thanked the department for its efforts, but is still requesting 500 more officers, as well as other services.
“We got to solve the mental health crisis in the city,” said Sarah Feinberg of New York City Transit. “It’s ground zero, and it’s the only way to improve the whole system.”
The subway system has seen major changes over the years, from when it was a breeding ground for crime in the 1980s.
NYPD stats show back then 250 violent crimes took place in the subway on weekly basis.
To help police tackle the violence, vigilante groups like the Guardian Angels started patrolling the subway.
Wednesday, the Guardian Angels announced a comeback.
“Just like in the late ’70s when I started the group, we’re going to have to re-energize, re-emerge in the subway, but in a way unlike we did originally,” said founder of the Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa.
Three hundred members of the Guardian Angels are now in the mix, posting up in the subway once again because they don’t want to see a repeat when it comes to crime in the subway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio agrees.
“We know when we put more police officers there, through precision policing, it works,” de Blasio said. “We see it happen time and time again — it works.”
To keep crime at bay in the 1990s, the NYPD assigned 4,000 officers underground, but that’s something Police Commissioner Dermot Shea is not willing to do now.
Shea believes the 500 additional officers will make the difference.
Retired Lt. Dr. Darrin Porcher worked transit for years.
”Five hundred, I don’t think, is no way shape or form is enough,” he said. “The MTA requested 1,000, but I think you’re going to need more than 1,000, considering we have the largest metropolitan transit system in the country.”
The department already has less man power: it boasted more than 50,000 officers in the 1990s, compared to about 35,000 right now. It is unlikely for the department to send in more officers. The NYPD said that would leave other areas vulnerable.