QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- After a rash of recent attacks inside the New York City transit system, including a violent subway shove in Brooklyn that was caught on surveillance video, the MTA is hoping to make it easier to ban criminals from the system entirely.
Lamale McRae slowly walked up the sidewalk at Transit District 20 in Queens Monday night.
He's in custody after being arrested for a violent and unprovoked assault of a total stranger on a Bushwick subway platform last week.
The 41-year-old is a career criminal, with more than 30 arrests, many for violent crimes including attempted murder, assault, and possession of a weapon, according to police sources.
According to current law, even if McRae is convicted of charges related to the shove, he could still be allowed in the subway system when he's released.
Eyewitness News has learned that the MTA is trying to gain the authority to ban people with convictions that include violent crime underground, from using the subway system.
In a letter obtained by exclusively by Eyewitness News, Transit Authority Chairman Janno Lieber refers to a law that allows "the authority to ban certain criminals from the MTA system," but he says the law is too narrow.
"There is no good reason why rider-on-worker assaults are ban-eligible while rider-on-rider assaults are not," Lieber said. "The MTA is developing a proposal to close this and other gaps in the statute. We will circulate proposed legislative language, which we hope you will consider supporting."
At the same time, the NYPD is increasing presence in subway stations too.
It's not clear how comforting all that is to commuters now searching out places along railings on the platform where they feel they can't be assaulted.
Of course, police presence has not always deterred people with severe mental illness from assaulting commuters underground or elsewhere. That is what challenges the NYPD and terrifies commuters.
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