NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- NYPD transit chief Jason Wilcox told MTA board members at a meeting Monday that assaults on his officers have skyrocketed this year. In many cases, Wilcox said, while officers are attempting to enforce so-called quality of life infractions.
"We have seen over a 55% increase in assaults on police officers this year. The majority of these assaults on our officers began as officers were engaging persons who committed fare evasion and other quality of life violations on the trains and in the stations," Wilcox said.
During a recent incident in Harlem, officers said a teen turned on them in a rage and for several minutes, it was pandemonium in the 125th Street station. Video showed the teen throwing punches and landing punches as the officers struggled to arrest him.
He was eventually subdued and taken into custody and then released within 24 hours without posting bail, to the frustration of MTA officials.
"I don't understand how the law would permit that guy to be released-when he has two priors that he's already out on the street for-to have him immediately released for that attack on a police officer. I don't get it. I know our riders don't get it," MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said.
Police officials said the officers were attacked after they spotted the teen jumping the turnstile with his girlfriend and that he lashed out at them after they told the couple to leave the subway station.
The teen had two recent prior arrests, including one case where he was arrested with several others in possession of a loaded 40-caliber gun and a crossbow.
It was one of two attacks on NYPD transit officers this past weekend.
"The criminals underground know they can get in a brawl, choke a cop and be back out in hours," said PBA president Patrick Lynch. "Cops are putting ourselves on the line to make the subways safer, but we are feeling abandoned by a justice system that won't back us up."
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