By Jonathan Sperling
New Yorkers may not be safe from delayed trains, but at least they’re safer from crime.
Overall crime in 2018 reached its lowest rate in the 20-year history of the MTA Police, dropping more than 13 percent from 2017, the agency reported on Tuesday.
Robbery, which the MTA calls a “a bell weather for violent crime,” dropped by 41 percent, from 44 incidents in 2017 to just 26 incidents in 2018.
"I commend the men and women of the MTA PD for all they do to keep customers and the public safe,” said Owen Monaghan, MTA Chief of Police. “The dramatic drop in crime across the MTA’s territory is a testament to the skill, dedication and professionalism of our officers at the MTA. This record-breaking drop in crime is not an end point for the MTA PD; it only reinforces our resolve to do more to combat crime and protect our region.”
MTA Police patrol the Metro-North Railroad, Staten Island Railway and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The latter hosts several major transit hubs in Brooklyn and Queens, including Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal. On average, more than 115,000 commuters boarded at LIRR terminals west of Jamaica each day in 2017, according to MTA data.
Besides record-setting low violent crime, MTA Police Department also reported a reduction in petty larcenies (by 22 percent) and hate crimes (by 6 percent).
MTA Police District 3, which covers all of Brooklyn and Queens, had a reduction of 14 percent in crime overall, with robbery down 43 percent, according to the MTA. The agency could not give the Eagle data for specific stations in the boroughs due to security reasons.
However, the reduction in crime did not come without tougher policing. The agency noted that arrests increased by 27 percent and summonses issued increased by 23 percent. Officials also attributed the drop in crime to “an important shift in its policing practices.”
“Gone are the days when customers were given verbal warnings about nonviolent infractions; MTA Police officers now issue citations as a matter of course,” the agency stated.
The MTA Police also noted that interagency cooperation and increased office visibility at stations helped to cull crime. MTA Police works with New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, as well as the New York State Police.