Park Slope

New state law makes subway crime easier to track, pols say

January 5, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The new law requires all subway crimes to be reported to the City Council. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

The two Brooklyn elected officials who sponsored a subway crime bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring the NYPD to report all incidents to the City Council said the new state law will improve New Yorkers’ safety.

Cuomo recently signed the bill, sponsored by state Assemblymember James Brennan (D-Park Slope) in and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn).

The new law creates a Comstat-type of system by requiring the NYPD to report to the City Council on a regular basis all criminal activity on the city’s subway and buses. The reports are to include the type of crime and the specific subway line or bus route on which the crime occurred.

The law also mandates that the reports will be maintained and transmitted electronically and then compiled into monthly reports to be made available to city officials and to the public on the Internet.

“Now, criminal statistics will be released to the public relating to the type of offenses, complaints and criminal arrests. The information will be reported by the location the incident occurred, both by specific police precinct, and subway line or bus route in the metropolitan region. This bill will provide law enforcement with the information they need to allocate resources and stamp out this criminal activity,” Brennan said.

The new law will also help combat subway perverts, Brennan said. “We have to change the culture that excuses sexual harassment as an annoyance and instead treat it like the crime that it is,” he said.

Mary Haviland, executive director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, said the new law will give an important tool to advocates.

“The requirements of the new law have far reaching effects for victims of crimes and felony offenses including various forms of sexual violence. Advocates will now have access to information on felony crimes committed on MTA lines including the types, geographic location and frequency of these crimes. This will provide critical insights as to where the resources should be effectively placed and how to best help victims of these crimes,” Haviland said.

The new law will lead to significant changes in the way authorities tackle bus and subway crime, Golden predicted.

“The information gathered will help direct resources to target patterns of criminal activity on a certain bus or train routes. I am confident that this new law will bring about a change in the way in which we fight crime on our transit system, making it safer for all
those who travel,” Golden said.

The crime reports will be helpful for another reason, according to John Samuelsen, president of the Transit Workers Union Local 100. “The detailed and public reports, required by the legislation, will lead to a better understanding of dangers faced by both riders and workers, and
hopefully, result in better strategies to protect them,” he said.

The new law is “an important step toward greater transparency and will allow both law enforcement and victim service programs to better understand the needs of crime victims in New York City and state,” said Christopher E. Bromson, co-chairman of the Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims Legislative Committee.