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Gov. Cuomo Supports Banning Sex Offenders From Subway

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- You see all kinds of things on the subways, but if one New York City lawmaker has his way, repeat sex offenders won't be among them.

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch's proposed ban is designed to prevent certain sex offenders from taking public transportation, CBS2's Jessica Moore reported Wednesday.

The ban would apply to repeat offenders -- anyone who has been convicted of subway sex crimes twice. That includes anything from groping, grinding, or other lewd acts.

"We need to protect New Yorkers," Deutsch said.

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If the legislation becomes law, it could apply to all mass transit, including Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind Deutsch's proposal as well.

NYC subway
A city councilman is proposing a ban repeat sex offenders on the subway. (Photo: CBS2)

"Two convictions for a sexual assault on a subway, you should be banned," Cuomo said. "You have people who target victims in the subways and that's where they go. Many people, crowded areas, certain techniques, that's where they go."

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According to the NYPD, 2018 brought 866 reported subway sex crimes and 373 subsequent arrests. Cuomo said driving those numbers down will require legislative action.

NYPD Transit Chief Edward Delatorre said officers know many of the worst repeat offenders, but are powerless to stop them until they violate again.

"We now have to follow them for hours and hours until they pick out their next victim," Delatorre said. "This is the most heartbreaking part for our officers."

The MTA said it's on board with Deutsch's proposal.

"We support legislation that would ban serial sex offenders from the subway and we look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to implement it into law," the agency said in a statement.

But commuters that spoke to CBS2's Moore were mixed on the proposed ban.

"I think that's a great idea. Everybody knows better," one person said.

"It seems like an easy solution, but let's face it, people who are perpetually doing these things need help," added Manny Rodriguez of Chelsea.

"I think that's a good idea. If you're doing it more than once I don't think you should be allowed to use public transportation," Danny Folpa said.

"I think safety is the most important thing. You want women and all people to feel safe on the subways, but to categorically ban anyone is pretty dangerous," David Lee added.

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Another question is how long would an offender be banned?

"Well, California did this a number of years ago and they have different criteria depending on the number of incidents. So it could be for 90 days. It could be 180 days. It could be a year," said counsel to the governor Alphonso David. "There are different statutes around the country and we're going to be studying those to determine the appropriate thresholds for banning people after a certain period of time."

A big question has to do with enforcement. Similar to sex offenders not allowed within 500 feet of a school, if that person is caught breaking the law again, violating the ban opens them up to additional charges.

There has been no indication officers would be checking IDs as people enter subway.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said he supports the idea, and though it's generating steam, there is no date for an official proposal in the state Legislature.

"Women should not be subjected on the train. We glossed over some of the details, these are heinous, despicable acts," Shea said. "We can and I think we should do better for the victims."

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