Hochul says that National Guard troops who work at NYC train bag checkpoints can’t have “long guns”

In a recent development, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has implemented a significant change to enhance security measures within the New York City subway system. The governor’s actions reflect a commitment to public safety while addressing community concerns over military presence.

This change comes in the wake of deploying National Guardsmen to conduct bag checks, a move initially met with mixed reactions from the public and officials alike.

Governor Hochul’s directive prohibits the carriage of long guns, specifically military-grade rifles, by National Guardsmen during their service at subway bag-checkpoints. This decision followed the deployment of 750 troops aimed at bolstering security in the subway system, a move that was reminiscent of post-9/11 security measures.

The presence of armed soldiers in camouflage at bag-search checkpoints sparked a debate, highlighting concerns over the militarization of public spaces and the psychological impact on commuters.

The policy shift responds directly to feedback from various stakeholders, including New York Police Department (NYPD) Chief of Patrol John Chell and former Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. Critics argued that the armed military presence contributed to a perception of the subway system as a ‘war zone,’ undermining the efforts of the NYPD and instilling unnecessary fear among commuters.

Despite the criticism, there was acknowledgment from the public regarding the necessity of heightened security. Commuters expressed support for the National Guard’s presence, acknowledging the increasing instances of violent crime on the subway. However, many agreed with Governor Hochul’s decision to eliminate assault rifles from the equation, citing the potential risks and the message it sends to the public.

Governor Hochul has defended the deployment as a necessary measure to confront the escalating ‘crisis’ of subway crime, emphasizing that the primary goal is to ensure the safety and peace of mind of everyday commuters. She pointed out the significant anxiety experienced by passengers due to recent spikes in high-profile violent incidents within the subway system.

The National Guard’s role, according to Hochul, is to supplement the efforts of the NYPD in maintaining order and safety, offering a visible reassurance to the public.

The governor’s approach aligns with her broader five-point plan aimed at enhancing subway safety, which includes an influx of additional security personnel, legal measures to ban repeat offenders from the transit system, expanded CCTV coverage, improved coordination between law enforcement agencies, and increased mental health outreach initiatives.

Crime statistics underscore the necessity of these measures, with a reported 45% increase in subway crime in January compared to the same month the previous year. However, following the implementation of new security measures, including the enhanced NYPD patrols, there was a 15% decrease in subway crime in February.

Governor Hochul’s balanced approach seeks to address the complex challenge of maintaining public safety while respecting community concerns. By adapting security measures in response to public sentiment and crime trends, the governor aims to restore confidence in the subway system as a safe mode of transportation, encouraging its use while ensuring the well-being of all New Yorkers.

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