NYPD increases subway patrols as violent crimes skyrocket

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- There's a growing concern about crime in New York City's subway system, and if there are enough cops underground to make riders feel safe.

The trend is undeniable. Violent crime is on the rise in the New York City transit system.

On Tuesday, NYPD officers swarmed the Columbus Circle subway station -- walking the platforms, searching the trains and checking-up on the train crews.

Captain Ken Gorman is the leader of an underground army. He's the commanding officer of Transit District 1, which includes some of the city's largest subway stations.

Two out of every three riders have yet to return to the subway. And, overall, transit crime is down by 40%. But violent crime is skyrocketing.

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It's up 25% so far this year, 82% for the past 28 days and up 140% in the past seven days.

Now, on average, two people are attacked every day in the New York City subway system. Getting pushed and shoved, robbed and beaten.

A man allegedly punched a rider in Brooklyn on Sunday. And another is seen on video threatening a station agent.

Police commanders say they're determined to turn the tide.

"When people get on the subway, they're gonna see a cop at almost every station," said Department Inspector Steven Hill of the NYPD Transit Division.

Dozens of recent academy graduates will be deployed. But transit officials have demanded hundreds of officers, leading some to wonder, if the underground army swarming the trains in Columbus Circle is little more than a photo-op.

"I ride the system a lot and I've never seen one. But I believe them when they say they're out there doing it," Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg said.

Feinberg blames Mayor Bill de Blasio for failing to acknowledge the problem.

When asked if she thinks it's because of his reluctance to say the city needs more police, she says "I do. Let's just be straightforward about what the issue is and how we can solve it."

Captain Gorman believes the system will soon look and feel safer.

He says he understands why people are afraid but wants to make sure that they feel safe once they do come back down to the subway system.

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