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New York Bolsters Patrols, Expands Bag Checks on Subway

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul did little to deter the image of New York City as a lawless hellscape this week when she called in 1,000 national guard and state police to patrol subways and search commuters’ bags, the Guardian reports. Hochul's deployment came after Mayor Eric Adams added 1,000 new cops to the subway in response to January’s crime spike, in which 222 transit crimes were reported. Hochul framed the concerning scene as a public good, saying that riders would feel safer. Yet o people who are victimized by racist or biased policing, seeing more cops is the opposite of an assuring scene. And whether their presence will deter crime on the subway is the subject of much debate. “Rattling off statistics saying things are getting better doesn’t make you feel better, especially when you’ve just heard about someone being slashed in the throat or thrown on the subway tracks,” Hochul said in a press conference. “There’s a psychological impact. People worry they could be next. Anxiety takes hold.”

This week, Adams also expanded the city’s policy of bag checks on the subway, which means that straphangers might be pulled aside and made to show the insides of their purses, backpacks, or packages. Hochul said troops and cops were looking for weapons. There is an element of consent to these searches – a person can decline, but they won’t be allowed on the train, which is among the only affordable means of transportation in the city. Anyone who declines a bag check and then tries to sneak on the train is subject to arrest. Bennett Capers, a law professor and director of the Center on Race, Law and Justice at Fordham University is skeptical that these checks do anything to deter crime. This policy could be seen as a Band-Aid placed over greater problems: a lack of support for people with mental illnesses, a citywide housing and homelessness emergency, fallout from the “war on drugs” and the national opioid crisis, he said.

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