Eric Adams’ Misguided Subway Crime Lecture
Midway through Mayor Eric Adams’ first year, affluent whites who didn’t vote for him — and during the campaign minimized the crime fears over which Adams won – pronounce Adams a failure. He is not, but he is obtained begin to take ownership of its modest successes. Exhibit A is a crime on the subway — which Adams accelerated his progress on last week even as he insulted half the population of New York.
“We need to… put together a massive campaign on how to be a safe passenger,” said the mayor, fresh from a three-hour nighttime subway tour with The Post.
The mayor’s testimony was allegedly irresponsible female behavior. In Union Square, just after 10 p.m., the mayor pointed to “two young women, standing by themselves,” looking at their phones. “They shouldn’t be here,” he said. “They should be standing by…the help button.”
The mayor wondered if ‘that time of night’ would turn into a ‘habit’ – ‘1am when they come back from the party’.
He resolved to teach women “during the late hours” to stand in the “conductor’s position”, facing “the welts near the ceiling of a bar”.
What happened to the night mayor? A summer night at 10 p.m. is hardly late; 1 a.m. on a Manhattan subway platform is hardly late.
A thriving nightlife isn’t sweet, paranoid women finding the zebra stripes and standing there with their fingers on the help button, ready to press it if a man walks by.
As George Kelling, the criminologist who co-invented New York’s subway policing regime in the 1990s, told me in 2016, he was happyat that time, to see the women alone because it showed how safe they felt – and were.
The 1980s “coping” mechanisms that Adams suggests are not a sign of success but of failure.
Also, they don’t work. Michelle Go was not on an isolated nighttime platform when she was pushed to death in January; she was in Times Square mid-morning. Last year, Than Than Htwe had a male escort, her son, when an unknown man pulled her down the stairs of a downtown subway station, killing her.
Women (and men and everyone) are safe when subways are safe. A “How to be a safe passenger” campaign will scare everyone more.
Ironically, Adams could ran with good – or not so bad – news from the subway, rather than coming up with this ridiculous campaign.
According to Transit Police figures released last week, people riding or working on the tracks in May suffered six fewer violent crimes than last May – 111 instead of 117.
The drop came even as ridership increased – to 2.8 million people daily in May, from 1.9 million last May.
No, we are far from the pre-COVID normal. We are still 52% above that level. And the one-month positive trend may not last.
Yet he is something to have a month in which things get better, rather than worse, underground.
Indeed, until April, every month this year had saw worse subway crime, compared to last year.
As Adams might have pointed out, May’s slightly lower crime in the subway coincided with – guess what? — an assertive police force.
In May, police made 829 arrests on the subway, three-quarters more than last May, and for the first time the number of arrests approached pre-COVID levels. Arrests for jumping the turnstile were triple last May’s level and “just” 14% below 2019 levels.
As for civilian tickets, for things like sleeping on subway seats or evading fare for the first time: in May, they were 47% above 2019 levels.
These interactions are important, even when they don’t lead to arrest: people who behave antisocially on the subway know that the police are watching them.
In a city desperate for good news, Adams should take victory, however tenuous – and run with it.
The mayor should announce that he is going to deploy even more cops on the subway and that they will have even less tolerance for “small” offenses like smoking, to turn a small improvement into a big one.
And yes, he should consider offering additional courses at the police academy, since his idea of solo patrol in the basement didn’t work, creating too much risk for the officers – and since the officers take their mass retreat.
People elected Adams to reduce crime, especially subway crime. Whenever he encounters the slightest hint of success in this task, he should let it be known, rather than criticizing the “maidens” for feeling unsafe.
Their safety is the result he wants.
Nicole Gelinas is editor-in-chief of the City Journal at the Manhattan Institute.