Of the many aspects of criminal activity plaguing the residents of New York City these days, crimes taking place in the subway system have really had Gotham’s residents up in arms lately. People are regularly beaten and robbed both on the trains and the platforms. The practice of seemingly randomly pushing people onto the tracks has become something of an unofficial sport, with more than a few being killed in that fashion. Some of the crimes are obviously being committed by gang members or lone-wolf bad guys, but a lot of the mayhem is the responsibility of the city’s massive homeless population, many of whom take to sheltering in the subways during the winter months.
Now, the newly minted Mayor of New York wants to put an end to the madness. And Eric Adams has launched a plan to do just that. But is it even possible at this point? (The Hill)
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced a plan on Friday to keep homeless people from sheltering and sleeping in the subway systems.
Adams, who previously said he felt “unsafe” riding the city’s subway system, said the city will now require all passengers to leave both the train and the station at the end of their ride — and will enforce the rules with police officers.
Police will also enforce the subway’s rules including bans on occupying more than one seat, showing aggression toward other passengers and littering trash, The New York Times reported.
The situation in the subways has been beyond awful for quite a while now. Last year, most of the firms on Wall Street took the unusual step of formally warning their workers to avoid going into the tunnels and many began offering car service to and from work. And there is no doubt that a significant amount of the crime is being perpetrated by the homeless.
Adams faces a serious challenge here, however. Some of his predecessors have tried to tackle the city’s homeless problem but produced little in the way of results. Bill de Blasio’s efforts at combatting homelessness over a period of several years were deemed to be “a very expensive failure.”
The politics involved in such a plan are complicated also. While many of the homeless are committing crimes and basically making the subway system a rancid mess, it’s also true that many of them are dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues. This makes them a politically favored class, particularly on the left, so simply ordering the police to roust them out and toss them outdoors in the middle of a snowstorm is going to bring immediate attacks on the Mayor from BLM, the ACLU, and other activist groups.
But if you don’t just push them out onto the streets, what do you do with them all? During the announcement, Adams said that he was simultaneously launching plans to boost housing, mental health treatment, and shelter services for the homeless. That all sounds great, but it’s also all been tried before. This isn’t a problem that you make go away just by throwing money at it.
On top of that, it’s unclear if the city’s depleted police force is even up to the task at this stage of the game. Adams is insisting that he’s not talking about arresting all of the homeless for minor infractions. But two or three cops on a subway platform may quickly become overrun if the homeless outnumber them by a factor of ten or more and decide to fight back against being removed.
I will give Adams credit for trying and I hope he finds a way to prevail. The subway system is a complete disaster at the moment. But it’s tough to see how he is going to succeed where so many others have failed.
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