“Don’t sleep in the subway darling.”
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton invoked those lyrics from the hit 1967 Petula Clark song as he spelled out a new initiative against subway crime Wednesday.
He said snoozing passengers can expect a wake-up call from cops to keep them from becoming crime victims.
“Subways are not for sleeping,” Bratton told reporters during a monthly crime briefing. “People are tired and they work very hard. But our officers are going to be instructed to wake people up.”
By dozing off, subway passengers make themselves easy marks for crime, particularly theft, he said.
“You lose your phone, you lose your wallet, you lose some of your clothing items,” Bratton said. “You become much more susceptible.”
A spike in subway crime, particularly a spate of highly publicized slashings, dominated much of the briefing. Despite the recent subway attacks, the latest NYPD statistics released Wednesday showed that January recorded the fewest serious crimes since the department began its Compstat method of record keeping in 1964.
The NYPD recorded 22 homicides in January, down 45 percent for the same period in 2015. Shootings were also down last month by 34 percent from last year.
In the city’s subways, the crime statistics told a different story.
Serious subway crime spiked by 35 percent last month compared to the first month of 2015, said Deputy Commissioner for Operations Dermot Shea. Police reported 55 more serious crimes in January than the year before with 33 being grand larcenies and 25 felonious assaults, including the slashings, Shea said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted to reporters that the spate of highly publicized slashings disturbed him but he emphasized they were individual attacks and not part of a pattern.
To reduce subway crime, the NYPD plans to put additional teams of uniformed officers in the massive below-ground system. It’s an “all out” strategy that includes pulling transit bureau cops off desk jobs and other assignments and putting them on patrol in the subways in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said Chief of Department James P. O’Neill.
The new Strategic Response Group of officers, as well as the Critical Response Command — a unit normally focused on counter terrorism — will also send cops into the subway system, O’Neill said.
Bratton offered advice on how straphangers could guard against becoming crime victims.
“I always try to get on the car that has the conductor,” he said. “Seriously, no matter what goes on, a train delay, etcetera, you want to be on the car with the conductor.”
Bratton also said he doesn’t get on the last car of a train and always stands near a pole, based on his experience as head of the city transit police in the early 1990s.
“Lets keep this thing in perspective. There is an issue at the moment, we are dealing with it,” said Bratton. “But some of it has to do with the fact we live in a very crowded city of 8.5 million people, and six million of them get on the subway every day.”