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MTA Board Approves Hiring 500 Additional Police Officers, Despite Lawmakers’ Objections

Churro vendor Elsa before being handcuffed by police last month (Twitter @sofiabnewman)

Dec. 18, 2019 By Allie Griffin

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board approved the hiring of 500 additional transit police officers Wednesday, despite opposition from several local lawmakers.

The board voted to approve the authority’s $17 billion budget for 2020, which included funding for the additional officers — an expected $249 million over the next four years, according to the authority’s own estimates.

The hirings will add to the nearly 2,500 NYPD officers who patrol the transit system and is on top of the MTA’s existing police force of nearly 800 officers.

A day earlier, three Queens lawmakers called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to ditch his plans to hire the additional transit police officers and instead use to the money to improve subway and bus service.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos, along with three other lawmakers, penned a letter to Cuomo on Tuesday arguing that MTA enforcement often unfairly targets low income and minority communities and that they money should be put to better use.

“In our view, desperately needed resources would be better invested in subway, bus, maintenance and service improvements, as well as protecting riders and transit workers from assault rather than in the over-policing of our communities,” the politicians wrote in the letter.

Cuomo’s proposal to ramp up MTA enforcement is meant to address quality of life crimes and fare evasion, but the lawmakers said that “arresting hard-working people who cannot afford a $2.75 fare is, in effect, the criminalization of poverty.”

They also say the hiring spree is unnecessary as overall crime on subways has decreased, citing NYPD statistics.

Instead of focusing their energy on catching turnstile hoppers, existing police should focus on protecting transit workers from an uptick in assault, the elected officials urged.

“Instead of patrolling the turnstile, existing police officers should focus on the threats faced by MTA employees,” they wrote in the letter.

The lawmakers noted the highly publicized recent arrest of a churro vendor and the arrest and tasering of a teenager at subway stations, which sparked transit advocates and elected officials to rally against the governor’s plan for 500 new officers last month.

The letter was also signed by Representatives José Serrano and Jerrold Nadler and State Senator Luis Sepúlveda.

Following the board’s decision to approve the hiring, Riders Alliance Police and Communications Director Danny Pearlstein criticized the governor, calling the new hires “the governor’s cops.”

“Today, Governor Cuomo saddled the MTA with a new police force it can’t afford and doesn’t need,” Pearlstein said. “He made that decision in the face of all evidence, arguments, and diverse voices in opposition.”

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11 Comments

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Gardens Watcher

We need better service and more police on the trains and in the stations. Shouldn’t be a choice between better service and more cops.

Reply
Marco Polo

T’was the week before Christmas and all through the House,
Pelosi was screaming that Trump should be oust;

The subpoenas were hung by the chimney with care,
just like Jeffrey Epstein after the Clintons were there;

The Dems were all nestled and snug in their chair;
with visions of Bernie and his free Medicare;

With all their lying, and Schiff pounding his gavel,
they just couldn’t get Donald Trump to unravel.

The 2020 election Dems know they can’t win it,
so they’ll impeach the President and lose in the Senate.

With Trump back in office for another four years,
we had better get used to more liberal tears.

So, on Christmas morning enjoy your gifts to unwrap
all delivered by Santa in his red MAGA cap!

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Reply
Does that have anything to do with this story?

Sure, Trump coerced Ukraine and other foreign countries into providing damaging narratives about Joe Biden.

And YES, Trump was friends with Epstein.

What does that have to do with the MRA board though? Your little red hat might be on too tight.

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Reply
Is that your argument? lol

Boomers think copying and pasting the poem your grandma forwarded you in an email is political discourse

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Reply
The Radical Right never builds walls

A promise that Mexico would make a “one-time payment,” a government shutdown, a republican senate, and 3 years later not an inch of wall built.

But you’re mad about an elevator?

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Reply
Slight of Hand...

While liberal ninnies are obsessing about a wall we will be stacking the Supreme Court and the Federal Judiciary over the next 4 years which will last for another generation..Why did Dems just hand him another 1.4 billion to continue to build the wall??…There will be over 500 miles of wall built by election time in 2020(as per Wikipedia)..see ya at the polls!!

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Harry Bingham IV

Yep! Tons of Federal judges sailing right through the Senate. The reverberations will be felt for years! I LOVE IT!! Hopefully RBG’s seat will become available as well!

Reply
Not a single inch of Wall has been built. In 3 years 3

Wait, why is Trump making new taxes to pay for the wall?

You REALLY believed that Mexico would make a “one-time payment” for it! The Radical Right is so gullible.

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"slight" of hand?

Were you trying to spell “sleight?”

Maybe next tine, keep your head up little buddy.

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Reply

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