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Demanding Answers: New Yorkers Grow More Concerned About Subway Crime, Curtailed NYPD Involvement In Mental Health Crisis

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some New Yorkers are growing more concerned about a recent rash of subway shoving incidents and the curtailment of NYPD involvement in dealing with mentally ill people.

They're imploring City Hall to do something about it, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

There are pictures of subway stations that the mayor and police commissioner ought to study: homeless people sleeping on benches or passed out on the walkway, a man lighting up a cigarette or something stronger, and another pulling up his pants after relieving himself on the tracks.

The pictures were all taken at the Fulton Street station, where an unhinged man pushed a straphanger onto the tracks earlier in the week.

Or, they could listed to the voices of riders who think there should be more policing.

"I really don't feel safe. You see a lot of people homeless inside the trains," said Bernadita Suriel from Crown Heights. "After all the incidents happening, it's really making us scared.

"There be a lot of nutty people on the trains," another person said. "More police on the platform because it's dangerous. It's really out of control."

MORE: Interim MTA Pres. Sarah Feinberg Asks Mayor De Blasio To Boost NYPD Presence In Transit System Amid City's Growing Mental Health Crisis, Increasing Subway Crime

"You've have people getting pushed on the train tracks, getting killed on the train tracks," said Robin Ballard from Mott Haven.

"People yelling and just getting into arguments for absolutely no reason, and people on drugs, and people doing stuff that they shouldn't be doing," said Lulia Vessel from Clinton Hill.

"I carry, you know, something with me to protect myself," said Milly Minero from Sunnyside.

There have been four track shoving incidents this year, including when a woman pushed another woman into an oncoming train.

There were 24 track shoving incidents in 2020.

MORE: New Pilot Program Has FDNY EMTs, Mental Health Crisis Workers Respond To 911 Calls Involving Mentally Ill Individuals Without NYPD

Kramer demanded answers from Mayor Bill de Blasio, pointing out that NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea called track shoving "common" and "disturbing."

"It's come down to the point where the buck stops with you Mr. Mayor, and I'm wondering what you are going to do to make people feel that it's safe to take the subway," Kramer asked.

"Yeah, Marcia, the buck always stops with me," de Blasio said. "But I think your question does not portray the reality. The bottom line is the subways in New York City have been made safer and safer over years."

MORE: Man Suspected Of Attacking At Least 5 Women In Bushwick Subway Station In Custody

With Shea by his side, the mayor accused Kramer of misquoting him.

"The commissioner never said that. So don't put words in his mouth, with all due respect," de Blasio said.

Yesterday, Shea said, "I think we would all agree it's becoming too common, that this is something disturbing."

The commissioner also seemed concerned about the move to limit the NYPD's responsibility for dealing with the emotionally disturbed.

"This is a real problem now that we need to, listen, it's not easy, but we need to talk about it because, at the same time, we're saying take the police out of mental health illness," Shea said.

The MTA says it needs more cops on the trains and on the platforms.


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