NYPD Spent $155 Million On Subway Overtime In 2023

If there’s one thing New York City’s government loves, it’s the NYPD. They’re the perfect child, the enforcement arm that can do no wrong, and the cops will always see budget increases regardless of the effect — positive or negative — they have on their local community. Case in point: The subway.

New York’s subway system is replete with uniformed NYPD officers, standing on platforms and at station entrances paying rapt attention to all the goings-on of their For You page. Oh, and, totally doing necessary police work while they’re there. According to data from Gothamist, those dutiful civil servants stopped a whole 48 serious crimes in the subway — and it only cost us taxpayers $155 million. From Gothamist:

NYPD overtime pay for extra officers in the subway went from $4 million in 2022 to $155 million this year, according to city records obtained by Gothamist.

The new spending was part of a push by Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to reduce crime and crack down on New Yorkers sleeping in the transit system – in part by flooding the subways with uniformed NYPD officers working overtime shifts.

The influx of officers corresponded to a 2% drop in what police call “major” crimes in the subway, including robbery, rape and murder. But the most marked effect of adding officers was a skyrocketing number of tickets and arrests for fare evasion. Police officials said they count that as a success.

NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said targeting fare jumpers saves the MTA money and brings “order” to the underground.

Of course, when the cops decide to get off their phones and actually do anything related to their jobs, the results are mixed. Gothamist spoke with a transit advocate who countered the NYPD’s claims of “order”:

Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director for Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy group, said cracking down on fare evaders doesn’t reduce crime or solve the MTA’s budget woes.

“Policing fare evasion is not the way to solve the MTA’s revenue problems,” Pearlstein said. “It’s primarily an issue of poverty.”

The vast majority of New Yorkers ticketed and arrested for fare evasion this year – 82% and 92% respectively – were not white, according to NYPD data. That’s a pattern that’s stayed consistent since 2017, when the NYPD first started publicly reporting fare evasion arrest data.

The full analysis from Gothamist is worth the read, as it includes perspectives from the people most affected by increased police presence in the subways: The actual subway riders who, with their tax money, pay for all that overtime. And they don’t even get to watch the TikToks.

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