Since then, the NYPD has faced a number of controversies for aggressive over-policing, most of which were caught on video and shared online.
In one incident, a brawl among teenage students at the Jay Street-MetroTech station led to intervention by officers from the 84th Precinct. But in the video, at least one cop can be seen repeatedly punching one of the teens. That officer was later put on desk duty.
In another incident, police officers reportedly swarmed an unarmed black teen with guns drawn inside the subway car after he allegedly jumped the turnstile.
According to reports, the teen had his hands raised as nearly a dozen officers, some holding guns, tackled the teen to the floor.
The latest example of what critics call over-policing occurred last Friday, when four police officers handcuffed a churro vendor at Broadway Junction, confiscated her merchandise and issued her a summons.
That incident, recorded by subway rider Sofia Newman, sparked a rally on Monday calling for Cuomo to scrap the plan to add 500 new police officers. Instead, he should direct the money for improved transit and consider legislation to lift a cap on vendor permits, activists said.
All of these NYPD-involved occurrences, and many more that go unrecorded, demonstrate why the governor should rethink his plans to hire new cops.
While the MTA has said fare evasion is a problem, increased law enforcement will not solve the crisis of poverty –– only “criminalize” it, as activists have said.
Instead, creative solutions like the Riders Alliance’s Fair Fares initiative, which gives half-price MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers, are the way to go.
The MTA should be focused not on punishing vendors who are trying to make a living, but rather fixing the subways and buses.
But it all starts at the top. Cuomo should listen to these concerns and adjust his plans accordingly.