More police won’t increase public safety, lawyers say

  • A mass shooting on a New York train killed 10 people on Tuesday.
  • New York City Mayor Eric Adams doubled down on his call for increased NYPD presence in subways.
  • Proponents argue that the strategy doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.

Following a mass shooting in a Brooklyn subway that left 10 shot and injured, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he was determined to double the presence of the New York City Police Department. York in the transit system, despite criticism that residents need better resources, not more police.

Adams, a former officer himself, already added more NYPD officers to the subway system before the shooting. But as crime continues to rise on city trains, advocates are urging Adams to seek alternative solutions, such as investing in housing and mental health services.

Crime on the New York City subway has risen 70%, Insider’s Haven Orecchio-Egresitz previously reported, citing pandemic-related hardships and the neglect of the city’s homeless neighbors and people with mental illnesses.

Scott Hechinger, a civil rights lawyer and founder of the social justice organization Zealous, told Insider that the “tragic” shooting at Sunset Park highlights the ineffectiveness of throwing more police at the issues.

He says the incident underscores “the abject political failure of investing hundreds of millions of dollars” in extra police in subways. “Unfortunately, this tragedy will no doubt be used by the police and their allies to demand even more.”

The New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America told Insider in an emailed statement that “solutions must get to the root of the problem and be holistic,” adding that “the police presence has no neither prevented nor deterred the attack, and failed to prevent the attacker from fleeing the scene.

Police say the suspect in the morning rush hour attack – which injured dozens of transit passengers – fired at least 33 shots at the train and used a canister to fill the air of smoke before. The suspect, Frank James, was arrested Wednesday after a citywide manhunt.

Law enforcement sources told multiple news outlets that the suspect called Crime Stoppers on himself, but James left the scene before they arrived. Netizens credited 21-year-old Zack Tahhana security camera installer, for spotting the suspect on the street and notifying a nearby officer on Wednesday.

The ordeal has left critics all the more skeptical that additional police could tackle crime in the city and on its public transport.

Jaslin Kaur, an organizer and candidate for city council in New York’s 23rd congressional district, echoed the idea that the police shouldn’t be the primary solution. Kaur told Insider that Adams was elected by New Yorkers who believed in his promise to reduce crime, but, she said, “we’ve only seen more devastating shootings since he was sworn in.”

And in the hours following the Brooklyn attack, at least 15 other people in the city were shot – three of whom died – and the NYPD made no arrests, according to the New York Daily News.

“These working-class communities need working-class solutions,” Kaur said. “But we won’t get that with a mayor who is proposing multi-million dollar cuts to the Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Health and Hospitals. We can’t be tough on crime in New York anymore. We need to fund public health and housing to achieve real public safety.

Adams did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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