Could it be true? Crime down on NYC subways?

Back in October, New York City Mayor Eric Adams made a joint announcement with Governor Kathy Hochul regarding a new public safety plan for the Big Apple. Dubbed the “Cops, Cameras and Care” program, they claimed that they would be adding more than one thousand additional police officers to the MTA force patrolling the subways. More surveillance cameras would be installed and they would begin moving most of the homeless out of the tunnels and into shelters. The state would provide a significant chunk of the money needed to make that happen. I’ll confess to having been a bit dubious when they made that announcement. We hear plenty of big talk from New York politicians, but it rarely translates into productive action. But perhaps they actually did something right this time. It was announced yesterday that a significant drop in subway crime rates has been observed over the past few months.

The rate of subway crime in the Big Apple has declined since the launch of a new safety plan in October, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday.

During a joint appearance at the Fulton Transit Center in Lower Manhattan, officials unveiled NYPD figures that showed subway crimes were now occurring at a rate of 1.7 incidents per 1 million riders, down from 2.3 incidents in 2021 and 2022.

The rate is now nearly at the same level of 1.5 incidents per 1 million riders before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which ridership plunged and crime spiked to 2.8 per 1 million.

It’s not that often that we have the opportunity to celebrate any good news coming out of our larger cities, so I try to take that chance when the occasion arises. And if these numbers continue to remain down through the rest of the winter and the spring, we may be seeing a trend toward improvement. Crime rates in the subway system almost doubled over the course of the pandemic and through most of last year.

Another major improvement has been the significantly reduced number of homeless people in the tunnels, though that took many months to accomplish. The city has reportedly moved more than 3,000 homeless people into various shelters that have been established or expanded. Wherever you find large congregations of the homeless, you see increases in nearly all forms of crime. It’s just a fact of life.

The question now is whether or not these new policies can be sustained. The city has already burned through 62 million dollars in state funding to cover all of the costs associated with this expanded police presence. That money is going to be running out in the near future and New York’s City Council hasn’t even suggested they will be able to replace it with existing municipal funds without making major cuts elsewhere in the budget.

That fact should remind us of the underlying reality. Having the funding put in place for these programs was critical, but cash doesn’t make crime rates drop. These gains were achieved by the men and women of the NYPD who are out there every night putting their lives on the line. This should also be the final nail in the coffin of the entire “defund the police” movement. When New York’s police had their budget cut and their numbers dwindled, crime rates rose dramatically. When the funding was expanded and the force numbers increased, crime dropped in response. Is this really still a mystery to anyone? It shouldn’t be. It’s just a shame that we had to produce so many more victims of crime in New York City for more than two years to drive that lesson home. So let’s do away entirely with all of this “defund the police” nonsense once and for all, shall we?

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