Crime prevention measures
When the crime problem became more apparent and crime prevention
knowledge became available, the NYCTA began to develop serious
efforts to tackle their towering problems with crime and passengers'
feelings of insecurity. Part of these efforts were focused on
transforming the system's design to one that provides less criminal
opportunity and improved possibilities for control and policing.
However, it was impossible to reconstruct the entire system to
a degree which is compatible to the crime prevention design of
new metro systems. Therefore, a large number of additional measures
had to be taken; measures which fell within the scope of functional
and social management.
In January 1982, the NYC Transit launched the first of its five-year
Capital Improvement programs, which injected an average of $1.2
billion in the bus and subway system of the NYC Transit. The objective
of these programs was to save the NYC Transit from years of undercapitalization,
deferred maintenance, deterioration, and crime. A second five-year
program followed in 1987. Through a decade, the NYC Transit
succeeded in overhauling and replacing the world's largest subway
fleet. Almost all 5,840 cars have air conditioning and all are
now graffiti free. More than a third of the NYC Transit's stations
are now rehabilitated or upgraded. The distinctive tile mosaics
of these stations are rebuilt and additional art work is installed.
Right now, 99% of the stations are graffiti-free. Heavy duty stainless
steel mirrors, flexible security gates, permanent cul-de-sac closures,
vandal-resistant lighting, closable entrances combined with booth
status indicator lights, CCTV and talk-back communications, and
audio and visual train arrival annunciators have been installed
throughout the system. On January 1994, the first Automated Fare
Collection systems were installed on Wall Street and Whitehall
Street, replacing the former token operated turnstiles by a system
which requires metrocards.
In addition, a large number of management measures were taken.
In 1990, station managers were introduced. They were given responsibility
for maintenance operations, ensuring of a safe and comfortable
environment, development of the personnel's team spirit, and providing
passenger service for a cluster of stations. Line superintendents
are appointed to improve communications with riding passengers
and better their perception of safety and service. The NYC
Transit Police Force has expanded to 4,500 sworn police officers
and 400 civilians. It has adapted some modern policing techniques
including location oriented crime analysis; deployment of uniformed,
plainclothed, and decoy patrol units; and the prevention of serious
crimes by increased activity in the control of disorderly conduct.
The effects of the situational and management measures have been
positive. The rates of serious crimes have dropped significantly
through the last decades and seem to keep decreasing by the year.
A comparison of recorded crime statistics between 1990 and 1993
shows that arrests, ejections and fare evasion arrests have increased
strongly by 78%, 207% and 301% respectively. Subway felonies and
robberies, on the other hand, have decreased by 46% and 52% respectively.
Graffiti is now highly discouraged, but vandalism continues to
be a major problem of the NYC Transit. Every month, vandals are
responsible for damages between $250,000 and $400,000 just to
glass repair costs. Also, the passengers' perception of safety
continues to be a problem. The inability to completely alter the
original station design, the installation of prison-like gate,
grill & concrete constructions, the presence of the seventh
largest law enforcement agency of the country in the metro system
(complete with 9 mm automatic "Glock" hand guns, pepper
spray, truncheons and 28 trained German shepherds) and the high
number of loitering homeless people are not contributing to a
relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Instead they provide a constant
visual reminder to passengers that the metro system is potentially