New York Subway, National Guard

New York Governor Bringing In National Guard To Search Subway Commuters’ Bags

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has revealed that she is bringing in the National Guard to combat crime in the New York Transit subway system. They will be joined by state troopers and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police officers.

According to the New York Post, with crime rates rising in the MTA subway system, the governor, along with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, will bring in more law enforcement as they are instituting random mandatory bag checks for people using the transit system. Plans are underway to bring in 750 National Guardsmen, along with 250 state and MTA police officers, for 1,000 law enforcement officers to help the New York Police Department (NYPD) patrol “the city’s busiest transit stations.”

Hochul stated that the decision was made after meeting with Adams, authorities from the MTA, and the NYPD last week.

“No one heading to their job, to visit family, or to a doctor’s appointment should worry that the person sitting next to them possesses a deadly weapon,” Hochul said. They shouldn’t worry about whether someone’s going to brandish a knife or gun. That’s what we’re going to do with these checkpoints.”

Recent stats from the NYPD show that subway crime has increased by 13% for the year. Subway crime rates rose 45% in January compared to January 2023. Adams said that having the NYPD switch to 12-hour patrols on the subway led to a 15% drop in crimes in February.

The mayor did not attend the press conference announcing the move but released a statement:

“As we continue to surge NYPD officers into the system, we have been in conversations with the governor’s team about identifying additional funding to support this and other efforts to ensure New Yorkers are safe and feel safe.”

Gothamist reported that Hochul said that the soldiers would be deployed from a National Guard unit called the Joint Task Force Empire Shield. They will wear camouflage gear while checking the subway riders’ bags. Hochul added that if anyone is stopped, they must have their bags checked, and if they refuse, they will not be allowed to enter the subway.

“They can refuse,” she said. “We can refuse them. They can walk.”

There is opposition to the bag search as it is being compared to New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy that, 10 years ago, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD violated the civil rights of Black and Hispanic New Yorkers.

The New York Civil Liberties Union called the governor’s plan “overreaction and overreach.”

“These heavy-handed approaches will, like stop-and-frisk, be used to accost and profile Black and Brown New Yorkers, ripping a page straight out of the Giuliani (former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani) playbook,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a written statement. “Today’s announcement fails to address longstanding problems of homelessness, poverty, or access to mental health care.”