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Hochul Sends National Guard Troops to NYC after MTA Worker Attacks

11 Mar, 2024 Liz Carey

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New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) -- On Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she was deploying 750 members of the National Guard and 250 officers from state law enforcement to New York City to help control violence in the subways.

The announcement comes after a series of attacks on workers and passengers in the subway system throughout the city. Hochul said the troops and law enforcement officers would be deployed to subway stations to inspect passengers’ bags as a way to stem the violence.

The random checks will fall short of body scans and pat downs like airport-level security. Officials said law enforcement officers will be stationed at tables and perform random bag checks at subway turnstiles. Similar checks have appeared at subway turnstiles since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Transit officials said the support from the state would allow for more spot checks throughout the system. Additionally, officials said the National Guard troops and other law enforcement officers will not be patrolling the trains.

The added security is just one action Hochul said she was implementing a five-point plan to reduce crime in the subways.

“I am sending a message to all New Yorkers — I will not stop working to keep you safe and restore your peace of mind whenever you walk through those turnstiles,” she said.

In addition to the bag checks, Hochul’s plan includes support for the MTA’s plan to install surveillance cameras inside conductor and train-operator cabs. That plan came as a response to the attack on an MTA conductor.

Conductor Alton Scott was working last week when he stuck his head out of his cab as his train stopped. His attacker suddenly slashed him with an unknown object, officials said. Scott, 59, was taken to Brookdale Hospital Medical Center where he received 34 stitches and an additional nine sutures to close the wound.

“If a camera had been positioned in Alton Scott’s conductor cabin last Thursday, we probably would have already apprehended the person who slashed his neck,” Hochul said. “Today I’m directing the MTA to install cameras in every single conductor cabin, as well as [on] platforms that face the cabins.”

While there were platform-mounted cameras in the station that Scott was attacked in, none of them caught his attacker. MTA officials have said that none of them were pointed at the conductor’s mid-platform position when Scott’s train pulled into the Rockaway Ave. station.

Hochul’s initiative also includes $20 million to increase the number of clinical teams available to respond to people in mental distress from two to 10 systemwide. Additionally, Hochul is proposing legislation that would ban on anyone convicted of an assault on transit from using the system for three years. Currently, the law allows a ban only on those who are convicted of assaulting a transit worker.

Hochul said she will also work on improving relationships between MTA officials and the district attorneys and police, including regular meetings to discuss subway crime. As part of that initiative, the MTA will hire a “criminal justice advocate to assist the victims of crime in the system,” and to develop a way to “flag recidivist offenders” to district attorneys.

“No one heading to their job or to visit family or to go to a doctor’s appointment should worry that the person sitting next to them possesses a deadly weapon,” Hochul said Wednesday beside MTA Chairman Janno Lieber in front of a giant system map at the MTA’s Rail Control Center. “They shouldn’t worry about whether someone’s going to brandish a knife or a gun.”

So far this year seven transit workers have been injured, including a station agent that was injured when a man followed her down a platform and punched her, and she suffered from a fractured eye socket.

In a news release, Richard Davis, the president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, said employees were deeply concerned about their safety. “We need better protection now, before we lose one of our own.”

On Wednesday, New York Mayor Eric Adams said NYPD officers would also be deploying 94 NYPD bag screening teams to 136 stations each week.

“They’re going to be a seven-day-a-week operation,” NYPD Transit Chief Michael Kemper told CBS New York.


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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