With a recent increase in crime in the subways compared to a year ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton — joined by NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill, elected officials and others — went to the New York City Transit Authority Headquarters in downtown Brooklyn to announce an increase in police presence underground as well as updated technology that will make it easier for officers on the subways to communicate with their street level partners.
“You’re going to see more police presence in the subways. You’re going to see a vigorous response, but we’re also celebrating some progress on something that has been yearned for for years and is finally being achieved,” said de Blasio during the Wednesday, March 2 conference, referring to new radio technology that is said will help to keep both officers and pedestrians safe.
The mayor also addressed the recent increase in subway slashings. “We take it very seriously. We will not ever go back to those bad old days,” he said. “I remember what those subways used to be like and remember how they were plagued with crime. We are not going back.”
Bratton discussed how an archaic radio system has threatened the lives of officers. “One of the major issues at that time that we were facing was communications inadequacy, an historic problem below ground on the subway,” he said. “The problem is that below ground, you use one channel, and above ground you have to use another channel. It was just an awful situation.”
O’Neill explained the new transit radio system. “We are transitioning from outdated, separated radio systems for above ground officers and transit officers,” he said. “It used to be that street level cops venturing down into the subway would effectively be off the grid, which was not a safe reality. Now street level cops responding to requests for assistance from transit officers can hear what’s going. They can now switch frequencies.”
“The days of saying we’re going into the hole and realizing it was a black hole in the area of communication, those days are over,” added Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“We didn’t have the kind of communication we needed among our officers,” the mayor added. “Everyone knew it had to change. Years and years went by before real change was achieved so this is an important moment and this will be the kind of radio system that provides safety for our officers and the public alike.”