Poll finds 86% want more cops in NYC subways: 'I look over my shoulder more'
More than 60% of New Yorkers now fear riding the subway at night, according to a new poll
By Nicholas Williams and Clayton Guse
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A vast majority of New Yorkers want more cops in the subways and do not feel safe riding the trains at night, a Quinnipiac University poll published Wednesday found.
The poll from April 28 through May 2 of 1,249 registered voters in the city found 86% of respondents wanted more police officers in the mass transit system, where major felonies are up 63% so far this year from the same period of 2021.
Roughly 61% said they feel unsafe riding at night, compared with 43% of respondents who fear the trains during the daytime.
“I do look over my shoulder more than I used to,” said Wendy Rosa, 48, who lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and commutes on the L line. “There’s days when there’s a lot of police in the subway, and there’s days when there are no police in the subway. I wish there was some type of balance.”
The fear of the subways comes as Mayor Adams and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials have called for sharp crime crackdowns on mass transit.
Subway ridership is down 40% from before the pandemic, a decline MTA officials largely attribute due to the growth of remote work.
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber during an appearance Wednesday on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” also cited the fear of crime as a reason riders are staying away.
“What people are feeling is a sense of disorder on the system,” said Lieber. “There’s smoking, there’s open drug use, there’s vandalism. When people see that they think, ‘What might that person do to me?’”
The poll numbers show New Yorkers are losing faith in Adams’ efforts to reduce crime, which was his central campaign promise last year as he ran for mayor.
His approval numbers in the new poll slipped to 43%, down from 46% in February — and 53% of respondents in this week’s poll did not think Adams would reduce gun violence in the city.
In the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train, Adams floated the idea of installing metal detectors in the subways — and 62% of New Yorkers polled by Quinnipiac said that was a good idea.
During a panel hosted by the Milken Institute in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Adams described his vision for the metal detectors as something to “allow you to identify that someone is carrying a gun in a nonintrusive way.”
“If you have an increasing level of terrorism, guns on our streets, innocent people being shot and you have nonintrusive technology that’s available, this mayor is going to use it,” Adams said.
Julio Salcedo, a computer technician who commutes from Morris Park in the Bronx to Manhattan, said the metal detectors are a step too far.
“Imagine having to use a metal detector with thousands of people using the subway every day — that would be a nightmare,” said Salcedo, 48. “I don’t see a lot of cops in the subway here in the Bronx, but if you go to Manhattan it’s different. Seeing a cop in a station is better than metal detectors.”
The MTA controls the subways, and any new weapon detection equipment would need to be approved by transit officials. MTA spokeswoman Joana Flores said the agency is “awaiting details of new concepts” pitched by the mayor.
The Quinnipiac poll also found 69% of respondents support Gov. Hochul’s mandate for riders to wear masks. The mandate caused confusion among riders last month after a federal judge struck down a nationwide order by President Biden for mass transit riders and airline flyers to wear masks.
Hochul kept New York’s mandate in place after the court ruling — and 74% of the poll’s respondents said they’d continue to wear masks on the subways even if the governor lifts the rule. The poll’s findings conflict with MTA survey data, which as of mid-April found just 64% of subway riders wore their masks correctly.
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