NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD is considering revamping the way it fights crime in the subways in order to put more officers on trains to ease straphanger concerns following a jump in transit crime and a spate of frightening slashings, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Top police brass grilled their transit commanders at their CompStat meeting last week about how they were deploying the bureau's 2,200 officers, and whether certain highly specialized units should be scrapped to increase police presence on the trains.
The CompStat brass questioned whether to scrap the NYPD's subway gangs unit and other teams and instead shift resources away from watching turnstiles to riding trains.
“There is a perception that there are not enough cops on the trains," a source explained. "We want to know whether there are too many officers checking for turnstile jumpers and in a mish-mosh of units, and how they are managing personnel.
"Catching turnstile jumpers is fine because very few people committing the crimes pay the fare," the source added, "but increasing our visible presence is now likely even more important."
Serious crime in the subways has jumped 17 percent so far this year over 2015, from 358 incidents to 419 through last weekend. Police statistics also show since 2014 serious crime is down 2 percent, but is up nearly 15 percent since 2010, largely because of this year's double-digit rise.
That increase – coupled with the highly-publicized slashings both underground and on the city's streets – has rattled many New Yorkers who now are anxiously looking over their shoulders wondering if they are the next victim of random violence, including being pushed from platforms onto subway tracks.
Reacting to the public uneasiness on the rails, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton last week ordered more than 100 officers into the transit system to specifically ride the trains along with authorizing overtime for transit cops to provide more NYPD presence.
In an exclusive interview with “On the Inside,” the commissioner — who once ran the NYPD transit police more than two decades ago — said crime in the subways remains at historic lows, but the perception that it's not safe prompted him to send more troops underground.
At the CompStat meeting, sources say the NYPD's Transit Chief Joseph Fox and his top commanders were hard pressed to fully detail their checks-and-balances that assure Bratton's additional assets were riding trains, especially at night.
‘We gave the [transit bosses] overtime and personnel for 40 plus tours of duty to ride the trains and we wanted to make sure they were riding the trains,” one source explained.
The transit police officials initially stumbled at providing evidence that they were.
In the end, however, they got the message — get more officers on the trains, and develop a system that makes sure they stay there, sources said. They are then expected to report back to Chief of Department James O’Neill with what adjustments they'd make.