National Guard to Check Bags on NYC Subways After High-Profile Crime Spree

Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Reuters/Lucas Jackson

More than a thousand state troopers, transit workers, and members from the New York National Guard will soon be dispatched to patrol New York City’s subway stations and to check bags—a drastic move Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.

The governor said the increase in law enforcement is part of a five-point plan to increase safety and rider confidence in the subway system, which has fallen victim to high-profile crimes in recent months.

One of the most publicized incidents occurred Thursday, when a subway conductor was slashed in the neck on an early-morning Brooklyn train—a random attack that authorities said likely would have killed the conductor had a doctor not been aboard the train to hear his screams for help.

In another incident, a day later, 47-year-old Milton Hamlin was accused of slashing a 27-year-old man so severely it sent him to the hospital. The attack came directly after Hamlin made anti-LGBTQ comments on the subway, police said. He was identified and arrested Wednesday, days after police plastered screen grabs of security footage of his face around the city.

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“These brazen, heinous attacks on our subway system will not be tolerated,” Hochul said Wednesday, adding that the changes will “rid our subways of violent offenders and protect all commuters and transit workers.”

The governor said there will be 750 members of the New York National Guard dispatched to stations, along with 250 personnel from the State Police and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They will be joining a beefed up presence from the NYPD that city officials said was necessary amid the violent crime spree, which included six people being shot—one fatally—at a Bronx station in January.

Another part of Hochul’s announced plan is a bill that, if passed, would allow New York judges to ban people from subways and buses as part of their sentencing on certain assault charges. Also part of the plan is the addition of cameras in train conductors’ control booths and increased coordination with prosecutors to track repeat offenders, Hochul said.

The governor also revealed the state was earmarking $20 million that will pay for 10 teams of mental health workers to monitor subways and aid those in need.

“No one heading to their job or to visit family or go to a doctor appointment should worry that the person sitting next to them possesses a deadly weapon,” she added.

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