The surge of NYPD cops into the subway system increased by another 30% Tuesday as the department added scores of officers to the 500 rushed in over the weekend after two fatal stabbings, officials said.
With over 2,400 transit officers normally assigned to the subway system, the new compliment of 644 cops brings the total patrol strength to over 3,000 to safeguard straphangers, a level Chief Kathleen O’Reilly said will remain for the foreseeable future.
"Every parent, every student, every MTA employee, every New Yorker helping to get this city back on its feet, deserves to be safe in the transit system," O’Reilly, head of the NYPD transit bureau, told reporters during a news conference at the Union Square subway station Tuesday.
The NYPD rushed the additional cops into the subways after Rigoberto Lopez, 21, of Brooklyn allegedly killed two people in the subway system and stabbed two others over the weekend. Lopez was ordered held without bail pending future court dates.
While the attacks may contribute to the perception that crime is on the rise in the city, O’Reilly noted that serious crimes are still down in the subway system which she said remained one of the safest in the world.
In a separate interview on WPIX Channel 11, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that the influx of officers would be balanced against other policing needs in the city. MTA officials have said they wanted to see up to 1,000 additional cops in the subways.
Shea acknowledged that cops needed help from other parts of the government to deal with homeless and mental issues. Lopez reportedly had been hospitalized in the past for mental health problems and according to police had a number of run-ins with them.
"We can’t arrest people over and over again, it just doesn’t make sense," said Shea. "Of course we need help, we need all systems working together."
Shea added that it would be unrealistic to expect to see a cop on every subway platform. The added cops included 331 transit bureau officers being temporarily reassigned and some 313 patrol officers from other commands, said O’Reilly.
While serious crimes in the city are trending at about 25% below the level at this time last year, Shea acknowledged that shootings are up by 20% and gun arrests have soared by over 70%, according to the latest police statistics.
"Making gun arrests is not the problem right now," said Shea. Rather, he decried what he said was a continuing problem of people facing gun charges walking out of court without immediate consequences such as quick indictments and trials.