An image of 242nd street 1 station. MANHATTAN COLLEGE /COURTESY
By Katie Heneghan, Senior Writer
The New York City Police Department has reported that subway crime is up 80 percent compared to 2021. With Manhattan College’s proximity to the 1 Train, staying safe while riding the MTA is as important as ever.
Whether you’re commuting to campus from another borough or venturing out into the expansive opportunities the city has to offer, Peter DeCaro, Director of Public Safety, urges students to stay aware and alert when riding the MTA.
As for why there has been such a stark increase in subway violence, DeCaro acknowledges there are many factors that affect crime rates.
“There are many opinions about the perceived breakdown of the criminal justice system and the dramatic increase of reported crime in NYC, especially relative to acts of violence, unprovoked assaults, and felony crime,” DeCaro said. “An argument can be made that many factors have played a part in this crime surge, which affects everyone. This includes, but is not limited to, New York State bail reform and District Attorneys unwilling to prosecute felony crimes as such. Equally as important is a de-emphasis on prosecuting misdemeanor crimes, namely larceny, fare beating and various quality of life offenses, as well as the changes made in policing policy led by local government mandates.”
The college remains in constant connection with the 50th Precinct to ensure there is an open line of communication regarding patterns of crime and violence affecting our community.
“I confer regularly with Captain Charles Girven, Commanding Officer of the 50th Precinct regarding local crime trends or patterns that could affect our campus,” DeCaro said. “This includes subway crime reported within the confines of the 50th Precinct on the 1 Line’s 225th Street, 231st Street, 238th Street, and 242nd Street/Van Cortland Park stations. If any trends are identified we would certainly share that information with our campus community.”
In terms of staying safe, DeCaro offered a range of tips from awareness, to concealing valuables – there are many ways to protect yourself and others.
“Please be extra vigilant, alert to your surroundings, and focus on any potential threats to your safety. Stay far away from the edge of the platform and do not be distracted by using your cell phone when traveling,” DeCaro said.
Senior Sarah Dziewit frequents the 1 Train to venture into Manhattan and beyond, but has noticed a change in her patterns based on recent news.
“I used to be a very adventurous solo city traveler,” Dziewit said. “I would have no problem taking myself to new neighborhoods and feel completely fine getting myself home on the subway. For the last year or so I have had a really hard time going on the subway alone, and feel hyper-aware of my surroundings.”
While Dziewit continues to ride the subway with friends, she acknowledges that there has been a change in energy among riders.
“I haven’t seen first hand any violence on the 1, but I definitely feel everyone being more on edge, and police presence at the more dense stations,” said Dziewit.
Senior Lily Arida shares a similar experience to many NYC riders, who have taken extra precautions to stay safe.
“I always bring pepper spray with me, but recently I have also been traveling as lightly as possible with exactly what I need for work and nothing extra to slow me down or draw more attention. I have also stopped listening to music, sometimes I will still wear my AirPods just so no one talks to me, but I like to be aware of my surroundings and it helps when I hear everything going on around me,” Arida said.
Arida, along with many other MTA riders have become aware of the increased police presence.
“I have definitely noticed an increase in violence. Not directly, but there are a lot more NYPD and MTA officials around than before, and more delays since the cars are being searched more. I see stuff on the news almost every day too,” Arida said.
DeCaro noted the importance of awareness when riding any New York City public transportation, no matter how crowded the mode of transportation.
“A crowded train is no excuse for inappropriate physical contact,” DeCaro said. “Trust your instincts. Be aware of those around you, especially someone that is uncomfortably close to you. If someone makes you feel unsafe, remove yourself from that location or situation as quickly as you can. Inappropriate touching or physical contact is a criminal offense. Alert a police officer, an MTA employee or call 911 if you are the victim of such behavior.”
On behalf of DeCaro and Manhattan College’s Public Safety, please utilize the below tips to stay safe and aware.
· Whenever possible, travel with a friend.
· Be ready to access the transit system with your MetroCard or device for contactless payment in hand– don’t fumble around looking for these items at the turnstile.
· Be mindful of your belongings at all times. Refrain from using electronic devices onboard the train or station platforms – keep them OUT of VIEW.
· Wait for the train near the station booth during non-rush hours. Many stations have off-hour waiting areas.
· When you are on the subway platform the safest place to wait is far behind the yellow line and far away from the platform edge.
· Keep bags closed and fastened shut; be aware of your wallet or purse to avoid being pickpocketed and do not display money or jewelry.
· Ride in the conductor’s car, especially during off-peak hours. Sit in the center of the car and away from the doors to avoid a purse, phone, or chain snatch.
· Avoid cars that are significantly less crowded and remain awake on the train. Thefts from sleeping passengers are very common.
In addition to the aforementioned, remember-
· Wait for the bus on the sidewalk, back and away from the curb.
· Sit near the front of the bus and the driver if possible.