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City Officials Increase Subway Surveillance in Reaction to Underground Violence

The subway system, a constant in many Heschel students’ lives, has seen an alarming increase in violence recently. New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams are rolling out new security measures, hoping to reduce crime, but their effectiveness has yet to be determined.

The MTA as a whole has struggled recently, with subway ridership down 30% on average compared to the years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, violent attacks on the subways have risen substantially since 2019, with 570 assaults taking place on trains and platforms in 2023, an increase of over 50% from 373 assaults in 2019. 

In all of 2019, three murders occurred in the subway system, whereas four have taken place in the first three months of 2024 alone.  Gun violence has also been a major contributor to the general unease now felt on the subway.

Subway crime has defined Eric Adams’ tenure as New York City Mayor. His first two weeks in the position saw two people die after being forced onto the tracks, and combating such violence has been one of Adams’ clearest goals. 

However, his attempts haven’t seen much success. In the past, Adams has authorized increased police presence in subway stations; recently, those officers have worked with National Guardsmen to carry out random bag checks with the goal of detecting and confiscating dangerous, illegal weapons.

Despite these efforts, violence on subways has persisted, perhaps due to Adams’ initiatives acting more as temporary preventative measures against crime rather than permanent solutions. Adams has recognized this, and he recently announced a greater investment in mental health services since a significant number of subway violence perpetrators suffer from mental illness. Additionally, Adams announced plans to introduce automated gun detectors. The detectors, created by EVOLV, use AI to detect weapons inside bags and are currently in use at Lincoln Center and Citi Field, as well as schools across the US. Adams’ new measures seem like steps in the right direction, but only time will reveal how helpful they will truly be.

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