All NYPD Chiefs ride subway lines to hear concerns from New Yorkers

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, March 21, 2024
All NYPD chiefs ride subway lines to hear concerns from riders
N.J. Burkett has more from his ride-along with police on the D train.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- All NYPD chiefs were out riding the rails Thursday in a sweeping initiative to hear concerns about subway safety directly from riders.

Every subway line had multiple ranking NYPD chiefs riding during the day, in an initiative dubbed "Chiefs on the Train."

The top department executives talked to riders to hear their concerns.

"I know that you guys are doing the best you can, but honestly, I didn't feel safe," said one Bronx resident, Jonilee Maldonado.

Maldonado wasn't holding back, telling NYPD Assistant Chief Ben Gurley everything he needed to know about riding the subways in 2024.

"The D line needs more attention for sure," she continued. "That's why I didn't feel safe."

Chief Gurley admits that crime statistics tell only part of the story, which is why he and Deputy Chief Keiyon Ramsey rode the D Train Thursday afternoon to learn the rest of it.

"You need to be where you need to be," said Gurley. "And then there's issues with some lines. You have crime on the trains, so you have to be on a train. But the data is going to tell you that. It's going to tell you where you need to be. And sometimes that needs to be shifted. It can't just be, 'Okay, we wrote a plan, we keep that plan, and we stick with it.'"

Eyewitness News rode the D train for ten miles, from Fordham Road down into Manhattan and back. Several riders confided in the NYPD Chiefs that they're breathing easier on the trains in the past two weeks, but they would like to feel safer.

Thomas Smith says he still feels vulnerable - especially on the platforms.

"I'm always thinking somebody's going to get upset. Because if I'm, you know, going next to a crazy person maybe they're going to push me over the side in my wheelchair," said Smith. "And, you know, I'm defenseless against that, you know?"

Department commanders flooded the transit system Thursday, determined to hear from riders. The chiefs say the perspective was invaluable.

"I've definitely seen the turnaround, with the deployment: Extra cops, flooding the stations with more manpower. It's definitely been a game changer," said NYPD Bronx Patrol Bureau Dep. Chief Keiyon Ramsey.

Despite there being just six major crimes on the subway system on any given day, department officials acknowledge recent high-profile crimes are making some riders uneasy.

The department hoped that top police officials talking directly with riders could help shape policing policies with those concerns taken into account.

"I would say I would want to see more cops on the train based on what I saw from the platform and what I've seen in the train station," said Chief Gurley. "And I will make sure that we kind of work together, because obviously I'm the chief of the Bronx. I have patrol. We also come down to the train station, but we have to work with our counterparts in transit and actually work together. So that's something that you'll see an increase in."

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