NYPD will ramp up subway bag checks as Gov. Hochul pledges to deploy state personnel

Subway riders should expect more random searches of bags and backpacks amid a rise in transit crime, including three fatal shootings so far this year.

Mayor Eric Adams said on Tuesday that the practice, which has existed in an ad hoc capacity since 2005, would now be expanded.

Adams has said the city is deploying an additional 1,000 NYPD officers to patrol the subway. And the state is planning to deploy personnel to assist police with bag checks, said Avi Small, a spokesperson for Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“There was always a version [of bag checks] taking place,” Adams told reporters during a press conference at City Hall. “They may elevate and escalate it a little more.”

Subway safety has been a central issue for the mayor as he and MTA officials have sought to reassure riders after a string of high-profile crimes this year and a record number of subway assaults in 2023. A subway conductor was slashed in the neck last week while performing a routine safety check at a Brooklyn subway station.

Crime is up 13% year to date on trains and in stations, compared to the same period last year. An increase in grand larcenies is largely behind the uptick, according to official data.

But experts say the chances of being a victim of crime in the subway system remain low.

Subway ridership has exceeded 4 million on weekdays but is still short of pre-pandemic levels.

Adams said an average of six felonies take place on the subway daily. But he acknowledged some New Yorkers are afraid to take public transit and said he wants to battle that perception with more police officers at stations.

“We know people feel unsafe,” the mayor said. “We need our officers out there.”

Hochul is expected to announce more public safety measures for the subway on Wednesday after recent conversations with Adams as well as MTA and NYPD officials. She will also introduce new legislation, according to her office.

Adams also said on Tuesday that the city had identified two potential gun-detector models that could be used in the subway system to protect riders, but added that there are no immediate plans for a pilot program.

“We have two models that are promising, but it has to go through a very rigorous inspection,” Adams said.

The mayor has previously spoken about installing gun detectors in the subway, but noted that he wanted technology that was smaller and more streamlined than the detectors used at airports.

“We spoke with a lot of different firms,” Adams said at the press conference. “We told them this is what we would like to see. And they have been constantly trying to meet our challenge.”

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