Team 12 Investigates: Price of Patrols
Millions of New Yorkers ride the subway each day, and many fear for their safety.
“It’s lawless,” said one rider outside of the Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway stop.
Since late last year, those in power have said they’ll reduce crime on the subway. But how and how much it will cost remains unclear.
Last September, Tommy Bailey was attacked on a southbound L Train and killed at the Atlantic Avenue stop. Following his death, at least two others were killed on the Subway in October of 2022.
These deaths spurred the governor’s announcement of Cops, Cameras, and Care in late October.
“Deploying more officers and bringing more resources from us is an important first part to this strategy,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul at an October news conference.
Part of the plan is to deploy more officers onto subway platforms. In her October announcement of the program, Hochul announced the NYPD would add 1,200 overtime shifts solely for staffing subway platforms. She also announced the state would commit $62 million to the shifts and the state would fund the ongoing initiative, though no revenue source was yet determined.
Since then, Team 12 Investigates hounded the governor’s office seeking an answer on a revenue source. News 12's emails went unanswered.
Team 12 Investigates spoke with the nonprofit Citizens Budget Commission about its estimate on the cost of these overtime shifts.
“It’s [estimated] costing the city about $100 an hour. Which means each 10,000 overtime hours a day is about $1 million,” said Ana Champeny, Citizens Budget Commission's vice president for research.
Officials promised increased NYPD presence on the subway but revealed few details about where officers were stationed.
News 12 Investigative Reporter Katelynn Ulrich spent a month visiting four different stops multiple times to track the whereabouts of officers. She targeted stations where violence happened and that were regularly crowded. She always visited on a weekday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
She went to the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, where the subway shooter opened fire in April 2022 - often seeing three or more officers.
At Union Square where eight train lines converge, she always saw two or more officers.
But at the 176th Street station in the Bronx, where a Citi Field employee was killed in October, she saw a pair of officers once out of the four times she visited.
At the Atlantic Avenue stop where Tommy Bailey was killed, Ulrich visited once a week for a month and never spotted an officer. A frequent rider of the L train, Katelynn acknowledges she has been notified of officers on the station platform, but it was only once or twice.
News 12 told the NYPD what we saw over the course of a month and asked to speak with NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper. They denied a request for an interview.
According to NYPD, there is “patrol coverage” at the Atlantic Avenue location. Officers who conduct train patrols ride the trains between designated stations and stop at patrol coverage locations to conduct inspections.
A police spokesperson sent the following statement:
“The NYPD’s presence in stations and on platforms can deter a whole host of behaviors including violent crime, fare evasion, and violations of the transit rules and regulations. The added numbers of officers conducting station inspections and train runs create an omnipresence that riders, at all hours, can see and feel as they make their way to school, work, or home. Each day, the Department deploys over 1000 extra officers into the transit system to keep New Yorkers safe. The recent announcement by Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul will add an additional 1200 tours in the Transit system in meaningful proactive ways wherever needs arise. We focus officer deployments on priority stations and lines throughout the system. These officers are working hand in hand with the thousands of Transit officers who are assigned full-time to patrol the subway system as part of the NYPD Transit Bureau’s daily mission.”
Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD held a January news conference to celebrate what they said were improving crime levels. According to Hochul, major crime on the subway was down 16% in January since the launch of the overtime shifts.
There was no update on how the overtime shifts were being paid. Ulrich asked Hochul about it:
Ulrich: “Is there are revenue source yet?”
Hochul: “We’re assessing the data, trends are much improved, we want to continue to be a good partner to the mayor. Much more will be reviewed in our budget in the next couple of days.”
In the 2024 executive budget, there was no mention of funding for overtime shifts.
After that news conference, News 12 asked the mayor’s office how much the shifts have cost so far but was referred us to the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. OMB referred News 12 to the NYPD.
The NYPD didn’t answer specific questions about cost, instead telling News 12 about the governor’s October 2022 announcement to commit $62 million.
The investigation doesn’t end here. Ulrich wants to hear from riders who have concerns or their own issues with safety on the subway.