A light at the end of the tunnel?
City subway crime has dropped so far this year to levels not seen in decades aside from the pandemic — as cops significantly ramped up their crackdown on fare evasion, doling out nearly 10,000 more summonses in 2023 than at the start of last year.
Police figures show major crime on the subways is down 21.5% year to date compared to the same period in 2022 — with every category of serious felonies but one in the underground system showing a decrease.
Burglaries remained flat, with two reported.
“Obviously, crime is down. We’re proud. This is real progress,” Transit Chief Michael Kemper told a small group of reporters inside One Police Plaza on Tuesday.
Kemper said the start of 2023 saw the lowest levels of felony crime on subways dating back to the beginning of the data-collecting Compstat system in the mid-’90s if you take out the kickoff of 2021 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, cops have issued a staggering 75.6% more fare-evasion tickets over the first nine weeks of 2023, totaling 21,360 compared to 12,154 tickets over the same time last year, according to police data.
Overall, all summonses were up by more than 12,000 — or an 83.5% increase from 15,143 for the same period last year to 27,785 so far this year, the data shows.
Kemper credits pro-active policing on minor offenses as well as serious crimes with helping drive the recent decrease.
“I want to be clear, and I gotta give credit where credit is due: This is a direct result of the hard work of the men and women of the NYPD,” he said. “I think there’s so much to just the increased presence to deter crime.
“But focusing on quality of life, whether it’s fare evasion, whether it’s disorderly conduct, whether it’s smoking, just setting the tone of law and order in the subway system is absolutely part of the reason,” the chief added.
He also credited “phenomenal detective work” for catching bad buys before they could strike a second or third time and adding to the tallies of serious crimes.
The chief said much of the recent progress in 2023 was built on the increased presence of police rolled out under Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul in October. Before that, crime in the transit system was up more than 40% for the year.
The next month saw a 12.8% decrease in major felonies, but was followed up by a 4.6% increase in December.
Cops issued just over 7,000 fewer summonses during the final two months of the year compared to the first nine weeks of 2023.