National Guard to be deployed to New York subway to stop knife and gun crime

US

New York’s governor is to send the National Guard to the New York City subway system to help police in the wake of a spate of high-profile crimes.

Kathy Hochul announced plans to deploy 750 members of the National Guard to the network to assist the New York Police Department (NYPD) with bag checks for weapons at entrances to busy train stations.

“For people who are thinking about bringing a gun or knife on the subway, at least this creates a deterrent effect,” the Democrat told a news conference.

“They might be thinking, ‘you know what, it just may just not be worth it because I listened to the mayor and I listened to the governor and they have a lot more people who are going to be checking my bags’.”

It came as part of a wider effort from the governor’s office to address crime on the network.

Image:
Members of the Armed Forces including the National Guard ahead of a news conference with Governor Kathy Hochul. Pic: AP

She also suggested a proposal to ban people from trains for three years if they are convicted of assaulting a subway passenger and said officials would install cameras in conductor cabins to protect transit workers.

The deployment of the National Guard would bolster an enhanced presence of NYPD officers in the subway system.

More on New York

Ms Hochul said she would also send 250 state troopers and police officers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency, to help with the bag searches.

The governor has sought to present a more aggressive public safety messaging strategy after Republicans campaigned on crime concerns and performed well in House races around New York City in the 2022 elections.

However, the move was criticised by the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman – who called it “another unfortunate example of policymaking through overreaction and overreach”.

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“Sound policymaking will not come from overreacting to incidents that, while horrible and tragic, should not be misrepresented as a crime wave and certainly don’t call for a reversion to failed broken windows policies of the past,” she said, referring to the policing theory that going after smaller crimes can help stem greater disorder.

Overall, crime has dropped in New York City since a spike during the COVID pandemic, and the number of killings have fallen on the subway system.

Police in New York have long conducted random bag checks at subway entrances, though the measure has been applied sporadically and passengers are free to refuse the searches and leave the station.

Critics have repeatedly questioned whether the searches are an effective policing tactic in a subway system that serves over three million riders per day.

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