NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner James O'Neill do not like Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's decision not to prosecute most subway turnstile jumpers.
"It's important to control access to the subway," O'Neill said. "That's how we keep people safe."
The mayor was even more blunt.
"People have to pay to get on the subways, and fare evasion is not acceptable, and we cannot create a situation where people think it's acceptable," de Blasio said. "By the way, we have seen countless cases where we found people who have committed other crimes. We're not going to allow constant recidivism when it comes to fare evasion."
As WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported, the mayor added that there are plenty of cases where police have found turnstile jumpers to have a lot of money on them.
"My belief is that failure to pay a $3 subway fare, while it is wrong, doesn't necessarily justify arrest, prosecution, and the accumulation of a criminal record," he said.
Speaking to CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer, Vance compared turnstile jumping to speeding.
"If someone, Marcia, drives down the highway at 70 mph on the West Side Highway, they're going to get a speeding ticket, they're not going to get arrested and prosecuted," he said.
Transit cops arrested nearly 18,000 people last year for turnstile jumping, including nearly 8,000 in Manhattan.
Vance said his team will decline to prosecute most cases. If it's a simple fare beating case, the person skates.
Subway riders had mixed reaction to the decision.
"I think it's going to encourage more people to do it, there are no consequences," one rider said.
"Great, I think it's a terrible waste of criminal justice resources to prosecute fare beaters," another rider said.
"To be honest, I work hard for my money, I have to pay to get my way through, they should pay also," another said.
In addition to the arrests, the NYPD also gives out fare beating summonses -- a civil fine. The agency handed out nearly 55,000 in 2017.
The NYPD said regular enforcement will continue.
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