Guardian Angels back on duty on subways; Bratton wants to ban criminals from subways

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There are concerns about rising crime in the subways and now for the first time in decades, the Guardian Angels are back on patrol and trying to stop the rash of knife slashings that have plagued the trains.

"We're increasing the visual presence, the deterrent factor, that well the police have really been out of sight, out of mind, so they really need to step it up themselves," said Curtis Sliwa, of the Guardia Angels.

The Guardian Angels stepped into the Columbus Circle Subway Station Monday morning.

"We made a commitment, we reupped our patrols on the subways both during the day and at night because of this incredible number of slashings that's been taking place," Sliwa said.

This comes after two more slashings this weekend.

"You know a police officer would start in the back, he'd go car to car check on everyone. I haven't seen that in a month of Sundays and I think that's contributed to the rise of crime in the subways," Sliwa said.

A 31-year-old man was slashed at the 110th Street Station near Central Park after a woman who he argued with asked a friend to retaliate by slashing the victim in the face.

And a 21-year-old man was slashed across his right hand during an attempted robbery at the 155th Street Station and St. Nicholas.

Police say he tried to grab a knife when the suspect demanded his cell phone Sunday evening around 8:30.

"It's been happening a lot lately downtown and in other boroughs as well too," said Joel Lovera, a straphanger.

Sliwa and the Guardian Angels are planning to do patrols day and night, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then they will do it again from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., even though the NYPD increased their presence last week.

"Their role is 'See something, say something'. They are not expected to engage, they don't have any powers, nothing new," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

"People are not necessarily secure, they need to be paying attention," said Joseph Hayes, a straphanger.

The NYPD is paying attention to who commits the most subway crimes. Bratton calls them a "cadre of career professional criminals" literally arrested hundreds of times over the last 20 to 30 years.

"We are looking actively and discussions have begun with the MTA, and it may ultimately require potentially some legislation up in Albany, that some of these career recidivist criminals who use the subways to prey on victims that we find some way of excluding them from the subway as conditions of their parole," Bratton said.

City leaders are urging people to keep things in perspective. There have been six slashings since New Year's in a subway system that serves more than 5.5 million people on any given weekday.
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