Following an increase in crime during the pandemic, New York City's subway will spend $2.2 million per month on 200 unarmed private security guards to allow riders to return. Following a wave of violent crimes, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employed 100 guards shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19 last year to secure the additional cleaning crews.
That figure will now double to 200 as the company tries to rebound from a 90 percent decrease in riders in 2020 compared to 2019 when 1.7 billion people used the system. The pandemic had a significant impact on the number of people who used the city's trains, with many opting to operate from home, switch to cars, or leave the city entirely.
Despite the widespread vaccine distribution, ridership has only recovered to a third of what it was before the coming of the coronavirus. According to Mike Cortez, a spokesperson for the MTA, the expense is expected to be $2.2 million per month, or $26.4 million a year, out of a total annual budget of $17 billion.
"The protection and security of our customers is the highest priority for the MTA," he said, as per The Independent. Like other transit systems across the country, the MTA has seen a significant drop in ridership and a rise in crime as a result of the pandemic.
He also urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to "work with us and do more to solve these subway crimes and the city's current mental health crisis." The guards, who will not be armed, will be stationed at various stations as well as train terminals where the trains will be cleaned. The Wall Street Journal reported that Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD's transit-police chief said that data showed that overall significant crime numbers are low and that the MTA was "fear mongering."
New York struggle to combat subway crime, anti-Semitism
Authorities and reports said twenty-seven people were shot in New York City over the weekend during 22 shootings across the city, as officials bolster law enforcement presence in the subway system to address a possible increase in crime.
The NYPD told Fox News on Monday that there had been four more stabbings or slashings in the subway system this year as of May 16 than at the same time in 2020, with 64 reported year-to-date in 2021. According to the department, the number of stabbings and slashings identified in the city decreased by 2.1 percent or 29 cases.
Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed last week that the city would add 250 officers to the subway system, making it the largest NYPD Transit force in over 25 years. The remaining 250 officers will be added to the 3,000 officers already assigned to the subways, said the mayor.
Meanwhile, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the Big Apple in recent days. Four Jewish men were attacked outside Agudath Israel synagogue in Brooklyn on Saturday around 7:00 p.m.
"Free Palestine - kill all the Jews," the perpetrators allegedly screamed, said New York State Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein. The NYPD has posted photos and at least one video of the attack.
Looking for information regarding the identities of the males below in connection to an Aggravated Harassment of four Jewish males on 5/22 at approx 7 PM at 4911 16 Avenue (Agudath Israel). The males fled in a blue Toyota Camry. Any information, ☎️ @NYPDTips 1-800-577-TIPS. pic.twitter.com/B714qoZxPM— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) May 23, 2021
Just minutes before, two Jewish teenagers were punched by a group of men on Ocean Parkway and 18th Avenue, who reportedly coerced them to say, "Free Palestine." Police said they are looking into whether the two incidents are related.