The joint push by Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams to put more police officers in place on New York City’s subway system signals an entente between the two Democrats against the far-left wing of their party on the issue of criminal justice — a faction known for its embrace of the “defund the police” idea — as well as a renewal of cooperation between city and state.
“A new era for New York,” Ms. Hochul said during a joint press conference Thursday, announcing the cooperative effort to fight subway crime by increasing the police presence.
She and Mr. Adams also announced a new initiative called Safe Options Support Teams, to help combat homelessness. This appears to be an olive branch to progressive reformers, who want to see radical change in the role of law enforcement in addition to new ways to help the homeless.
“Hochul is trying to thread a needle between making New York safer, addressing crime and violence, and signaling her support for progressive criminal justice reforms and homelessness,” Lisa Parshall, a New York political analyst, told the Sun.
“I remember riding these trains,” Mr. Adams said. “I remember, during the high crime period or high crime time when people were afraid to utilize our system, there was just a feeling that the system was out of control. Today we are saying, we are not going back there.”
The city’s new police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, also spoke at the press conference. “Additional NYPD officers from the transit bureau, from patrol services bureau, and from other special units will be reinvigorated to work in tandem for the same goal, to deter crime,” she said.
The call for more police in the subway is unlikely to be embraced by the most liberal New Yorkers, if the reaction of the state’s Working Families Party is any guide.
“More subway police threaten to further criminalize Black and brown riders and will do nothing to address the real challenges facing New York at this moment,” Kumar Rao, a policy director for the party, said.
“We should be fully funding and staffing the MTA, connecting people sleeping in the subway with supportive housing, and strengthening community outreach and violence interruption programs,” Mr. Rao added.
Regardless, the newly allied governor and mayor appear to be doubling down on their version of “broken windows” policing. “Perception of crime and a perception of disorder, leads to the crisis we are facing,” said Ms. Hochul.
While campaigning, Mr. Adams pledged “to be an ardent supporter of ‘broken windows’ policing,” a promise that already appears to have run into a roadblock in the form of the new Manhattan district attorney’s far-left policies.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced he will stop prosecuting trespassing, fare-evasion, and other non-criminal offenses, while also offering diversion for misdemeanors and downgrading certain felonies.
Ms. Hochul and Mr. Adams’ tough-on-crime stance appears to be part of a trend for Democrats across the country. Andre Dickens, Atlanta’s new mayor, got elected on promises to end the city’s “crime wave.”
Meanwhile, Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said in December: “It is time that the reign of criminals who are destroying our city come to an end. And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement.”
As Reuters recently reported, criminal justice policy has become a divisive issue within the Democratic Party across the country, with progressives continuing to seek radical police reform while moderate Democrats push traditional law enforcement strategies.
The joint announcement by Ms. Hochul and Mr. Adams also signals a departure from the dysfunctional relationship of their predecessors. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio were at stark odds for much of their overlapping terms in office. Neither the governor nor mayor’s office responded to a request for comment.
Personalities aside, whether the moderate approach of Ms. Hochul and Mr. Adams’s new Democratic coalition on public safety issues finds additional adherents — and resonates with voters — will be tested at the ballot box on the state and national levels in the midterms later this year.
Image: Governor Hochul in the Manhattan borough of New York City, November 10, 2021. Reuters/Carlo Allegri