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Crime On Public Transit Rises As Cities Increase Police Presence

Fears of violence on public transit have caused alarm around the U.S., Scripps News reports. A national outcry was ignited by the death of Jordan Neely, who was put in a deadly chokehold on a New York City subway this month. The suspect is facing manslaughter charges. "Jordan Neely did not deserve to die. And all of us must work together to do more for our brothers and sisters struggling with serious mental illness," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The attorney for the Neely family said, "We don't want anybody afraid on the subway. But we want people to look at those that may be there in that situation and say, 'Why?'" The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit says that 22% of residents surveyed avoid public transit due to safety concerns.

A Chicago Transit Authority's Customer Satisfaction Survey last year showed a nearly 30% drop in safety satisfaction on trains and buses compared to 2016. Even though nationwide FBI data shows violent crime rates are generally 40 to 60% lower than the spike in the early 1990s, there's been a noted uptick on transit. Several major cities have seen a rise in crimes on public transit, even before the start of the pandemic. Crime on New York City public transit has increased year over year, driven mostly by larceny—for example, a phone or wallet stolen—and assault. In September 2022, a man was hit on the head with a wine bottle as he rode a public transit train in Chicago. This month, San Francisco Bay Area riders reported a man slashing a passenger with a cleaver. The incidents come despite the increase in police funding across nearly all city budgets, which often includes a rise in police presence on transit. The number of police on public transit has been steadily rising in major cities since before COVID, in response to previous spikes in crime.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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