Clueless Kathy Hochul says she doesn’t know why crime “is so important.” But her man at the MTA understands — and he’s taking steps to get New York’s crime-wracked subway system back under control.
They’re baby steps, to be sure. But that’s no reflection on Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Janno Lieber — who answers to Hochul, who in turn trembles before New York’s progressive anti-cop cult as Election Day approaches.
Lieber has hired private security guards to cut down on fare-beating, Just a few, of course. And only as part of a low-key, ahem, “pilot program” — no doubt to camouflage Hochul from the police defunders she courts.
The theory is time-tested, if clichéd: Not all fare-beaters are criminals, but most criminals are fare-beaters: Target them, as New York did in the ’90s, and the subways get safer. Keep it up, and they stay safe.
Intuitive? Not to Hochul. She controls the MTA, and if she got it a heavy hammer would have dropped months ago.
Consider: Why should a $19-billion-plus agency providing vital service to millions of New Yorkers — and which has its own fully sworn police force — need unarmed rent-a-cops to protect its most precious asset, the fare box?
To say nothing of its most precious cargo — those hard-pressed and endangered straphangers?
The short answer is that New York was losing the will to ensure basic public safety even before COVID and the George Floyd rioting applied the finishing touches.
When then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance — a George Soros-style DA before his time — announced he no longer would enforce fare-beating laws, all bets were off.
The rationale was clear: Criminals have a greater claim on the MTA than MetroCard users and their tax-paying, transit-subsidizing cousins.
MTA revenue dropped sharply. Now the agency estimates it’ll lose a half-billion dollars to turnstile jumpers this year.
Also now, armed criminals — and the criminally deranged — roam the system pretty much at will. Property crime is down compared to pre-pandemic, but violent crime is way up. There have been nine murders so far this year, compared to six in 2021, underscoring a very disturbing trend line.
This mirrors what’s happening above ground as well — which, obviously, also reflects New York’s moral surrender to its criminal class.
A key difference, however, is that subway crime is easier to control because access points to the system are easier to control. The intellectual and operational architects of the city’s 1990s revival — Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg and police commissioners like Ray Kelly and Bill Bratton — proved this.
They knew a fare-beating bust allows officers to search suspects — often resulting in weapons charges — as well as to run checks for outstanding arrest warrants.
The result? Criminals leave their weapons at home or stay away from the subways altogether.
Over time, all this was forgotten — and so here we are, with crime nowhere near early-’90s levels, though rising sharply.
But Janno Lieber remembers — hence his rent-a-cop scheme. It’s a half-measure, of course, and likely to last only until the first unarmed guard is stabbed.
Hochul, meanwhile, stands in wide-eyed wonder — telling Republican opponent Lee Zeldin during a debate this week “I don’t know why [crime is] so important to you.”
Still, she can feel heat, teaming with Mayor Adams to surge real cops into the subways — an initiative certain to last at least until one day after Election Day.
And if Hochul wins, things should be back to a free-for-all soon enough. Pity the straphangers.
Email: [email protected]