MTA Chair Janno Lieber says more cameras, help for mentally ill will improve subway safety

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, March 15, 2024
MTA's Janno Lieber sounds off on subway safety in wake of Brooklyn shooting
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber talks about subway crime and prevention.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The shooting on a Brooklyn subway train brought the issue of subway safety to the top of mind for many New Yorkers.

MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber hoped to put subway riders' minds at ease by outlining the new safety measures in place and describing how they work. He acknowledged the anxiety among citizens, emphasizing the need for increased uniformed presence in the subway system.

"To be in an enclosed space with that kind of violence going on is the most unsettling thing that can happen, but they also told me that the one thing that makes them feel safer, in general, is to have uniformed officers constantly present in the system," Lieber said.

The full video of the dispute that led to a stabbing and shooting on a NYC subway train in Brooklyn

Governor Kathy Hochul recently sent New York State troopers and National Guard members into the system to be a deterrent for crime and assist with bag checks.

The MTA chairman credits the presence of officers with immediate apprehension of the gunman and providing aid to the man who was shot onboard a train around 4:45 p.m. Thursday at the Nostrand Avenue station.

The incident has reignited debates over gun control, with Lieber highlighting the dangers posed by illegal firearms.

"That guy had an illegal gun, we don't know who is responsible or if there will be charges or not, but there was an illegal gun present. There are people in the United States pushing for there to be guns anywhere and everywhere even in a crowded subway system and the governor is fighting back on that and I am insisting that we cannot have guns in the system," Lieber said.

Video shows passengers huddling on the ground and screaming to get off the train as the gunfire rang out. Lieber says that new cameras in the system, on board the trains, are a big part of their crimefighting strategy.

"We have 15,000 cameras in the system and some people say we have more cameras than a Las Vegas casino, we're also putting cameras for the first time in the subway trains, even the ones that are a little old," he said. While many cameras are live, some only record.

"Broadly speaking, the other thing that New Yorkers are saying is that seriously mentally ill people need to be in treatment and not in the public space where they are suffering and acting out, it's terrifying to people," Lieber said.

He credits the governor with giving the MTA $20 million to help combat this problem.

"She's giving us resources to give to people who are seriously mentally ill and living in the subway system," he said.

Lieber explained how the money would be used.

"We pioneered this in the past couple of months, having clinicians who are trained in the law of involuntary commitment, when you say, 'You sir, are struggling so much that you need to be in a psychiatric facility, albeit temporarily to hopefully get you stabilized and back on your feet,'" he said. "But, to make that decision, clinicians who are specifically trained in that regard are going out with two or three police officers backing them up so they feel safe approaching those people, interacting with them. And they stay with them to make sure that they get into a bed, into a facility,"

When asked about public perception, how the shooting happened during the beginning of the evening rush hour, and the push to begin Congestion Pricing, Lieber remained mum.

"Respectfully, I don't think this is the time, the day to debate congestion pricing," he said.

Instead, Lieber says he wants to focus on subway safety and keeping 4.1 million riders safe each day. Cameras are being installed and he insists that violent incidents are still very rare. At the end of the day, he feels the key to reducing crime is to keep the criminals out of the subway system.

"We need more cooperation with the DA" Lieber said. "We had 38 people arrested for assaults of transit workers last year and only 11 were indicted, they all had huge records of priors."

You can watch Lieber's full interview on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10 in the media player above.


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