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New York Senator Proposes Equipping Transit Workers With Tasers

Taser stun gun (file / credit: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Taser stun gun (file / credit: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A New York state lawmaker is looking to put Tasers in the hands of transit workers.

When Sen. Eric Adams proposed letting commuter train and Amtrak crews carry Tasers the measure died in committee in Albany last year.

Now, the push is on to extend the legislation to bus drivers and subway conductors.

“I believe that if you’re allowing a train operator to control tons of equipment then truly we can allow them to control a small device, such as a Taser,” Adams said.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports

Adams, a retired NYPD captain, is renewing the push following a rise in assaults on transit workers. Subway workers were physically assaulted 94 times last year, up from 72 in 2010. They were also harassed — including being spit at — 1,092 times in 2011.

The senator believes a Taser would effectively deter crime and it isn’t nearly as dangerous as a gun.

“A bullet you can’t control, but a Taser, the electronic probes are not designated until the person pulls the trigger, so if you don’t hit your intended target you are not going to hit an innocent person,” Adams said.

The idea played to mixed reviews from several commuters in midtown Manhattan.

Adele Williams, of Brooklyn, said she would feel safer if subway conductors were carrying Tasers.

“[If] there’s somebody disrupting the train they should have some kind of protection,” Williams said. “You got people riding trains that are crazy.”

“I would say it’s a good idea, make it a little safer for people,” one man said.

“[It’s] putting too much power in a regular person’s hands who aren’t trained properly,” one commuter said.

“It’s insane, you’re putting the power of authority in a civilian’s hands,” another said.

Commuter Elvis Morrison fears if conductors carry Tasers then the bad guys will arm themselves to the teeth.

“Now they feel threatened so they’re going to take means into their own hands,” Morrison said, adding that the best way to protect transit workers would be to put them in bullet-proof booths.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports

The head of the transit workers union supports the idea but the NYPD and Metropolitan Transportation Authority are against it.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told the Daily News that only sergeants and certain members of the Emergency Services Unit who receive extra training carry Tasers.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota told the paper the agency’s top priority is to protect its workers but asking them to carry weapons is the wrong way to go about it.

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