NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The MTA wants Mayor Bill de Blasio to boost the NYPD presence in the transit system, citing a recent increase in crime and worsening mental health crisis in the city.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reports, since November, six woman have been randomly and brutally attacked at Morgan Ave. station in Bushwick. The troubling assaults represent one of the reasons why Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the New York City Transit Authority, is asking the mayor for heightened police presence throughout the system.

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“We need the system to not be looked at as something that’s underground, forgotten … It’s part of the city,” Feinberg said.

Web Extra: Read the letter (.pdf)

Feinberg sent a letter to de Blasio. In it, she says the agency has seen several troubling attacks on its customers and employees recently, along with multiple shoving incidents.

Feinberg is now asking the mayor to add officers and resources to the Transit Bureau budget, or to reassign officers from other areas to the transit system.

“I absolutely understand the NYPD is strapped, too. They need to have officers on the streets, but to the extent they can … It doesn’t have to be permanent. I don’t want to have a militarized subway,” she said.

Feinberg adds COVID-19 has worsened the city’s mental health crisis, which is impacting the transit system. She wants the mayor to allow city social workers to respond to 311 calls from the MTA system.

Right now, city policy redirects these types of calls to 911 and police.

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“It’s anyone’s guess why we’re seeing an uptick in these incidents. But the bottom line is it doesn’t matter why they’re happening. They’re totally unacceptable. We have to do a better job protecting our workers and our customers. And I need the NYPD and the city to partner with me on that,” Feinberg said.

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The mayor’s office said the NYPD Transit Bureau is back at full capacity after many officers were reassigned during protests over the summer. The office said it is reviewing Feinberg’s letter and will continue to work with the MTA to keep New Yorkers safe.

In the meantime, some New Yorkers are taking matters into their own hands. Peter Kerre just started Safe Walks NYC to walk people who don’t feel safe back and forth from the subway.

“The community cares, and the people from the area who are around are there help them if need be,” Kerre said.

New Yorkers say more officers are necessary now.

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“It would make us feel actually way safer,” one person said.

“It’s the city that never sleeps. So, something like that is bound to randomly happen… There’s more officers needed,” one person told Dhillon.

They say the best way to deter people looking to commit crimes is to add police officers.


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CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team