UPDATED 9:30 AM PT – Wednesday, February 17, 2021
After a violent few weeks in the Big Apple, transit officials are sounding the alarm yet again.
“We will immediately commence a surge of officers to patrol both above and below ground to ensure that everyone that rides on our transit system on a daily basis not only is safe, but just as importantly feels safe,” stated Commissioner Dermot Shea of the New York Police Department.
While New York authorities are now moving to ramp up security on subways, transit workers have said it’s long over due. The recent spike in violence over the weekend has Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees on high alert, but they’re pointing the blame on city officials for ignoring previous calls for the city to take action.
Their disdain comes after two riders were murdered on Saturday when a homeless man went on a 14-hour stabbing spree. The suspect, identified as Rigoberto Lopez, has since been arrested and is being held without bail in connection to at least four violent subway attacks.
Within 24 hours, Rigoberto Lopez was apprehended for stabbing four people in separate incidents occurring on the A Train, which left two dead and two with serious injuries. pic.twitter.com/qf4s1xa50f
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) February 14, 2021
In an attempt to ease tensions among workers and riders, Mayor Bill de Blasio rode the subway Monday to ensure its safety all while being surrounded by police and cameras. Despite Lopez’s arrest and de Blasio’s tone deaf subway ride, transit officials remain uneasy.
There have been more than a dozen attacks on subways in the last two weeks. Some subway operators have stressed drug dealers and con artists are overtaking the stations. According to the MTA, ridership is down a whopping 70 percent on subways and at least half on buses.
The NYPD Commissioner Shea has promised to increase police presence in these areas by bringing on at least 500 more officers to the subways. However, transit officials are calling for at least 1,000 more cops.