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Zeldin Decries Hochul Crime Combat Plan as ‘Late’ and ‘Politically Motivated’


No sooner did Governor Kathy Hochul decide to announce a major plan “to keep subways safe and address ongoing transit crime” than did gubernatorial candidate Representative Lee Zeldin lambast the policy as being “a half-ass, day late, dollar short plan…” 

Zeldin, who has campaigned with a ‘tough on crime’ posture, accused Hochul’s plan of not being prompted by “25 year high subway crime” or “9 subways deaths” but a “bad poll.” 

The governor’s office was not available via email or telephone. 

The poll Zeldin is apparently referencing, which The Messenger’s Matt Meduri discussed on page 9, shows Zeldin +1. Other polls have shown the gap between the two narrowing, with Hochul ranging anywhere from +6 to +15 in four other recent polls. 

The initiatives put forward by Hochul include an investment from the State’s public emergency fund and a commitment to work with the city on a dedicated revenue source to support additional police presence in the subway system. NYPD and MTA will surge officer presence on platforms by approximately 1,200 additional overtime officer shifts each day on the subway — equating to approximately 10,000 additional overtime patrol hours every day — as well as two new dedicated units at psychiatric centers to help provide those experiencing serious mental health illness with the assistance they need. This will be accompanied by new training for emergency personnel to engage the homeless or individuals in need of psychiatric evaluation. 

Hochul is additionally rolling out a plan in tandem with the MTA to install cameras in every subway car at a rate of 750 cameras per month. The process is expected to be complete in the latter part of 2024. 

The surveillance aspect of the policy, along with the increasing presence of police, would seem to place the governor in contention with some activists in her party. Richard Craighead, president of the York NAACP, wrote in 2021 against the implementation of a city-wide surveillance camera system. And previously, in 2019, New York City Democrats told then-Governor Andrew Cuomo that additional cops were “unnecessary.” This cohort included Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jose E. Serrano, and Jerrold Nadler, as well as Senators Michael Gianaris, Luis R. Sepulveda, and Jessica Ramos. 

“We have a crime-fighting strategy,” said Hochul at a recent press conference. “We’ve leaned into proven law enforcement strategies, investing in new technologies that’ll make a difference, and we’re providing New Yorkers the support and the help they need. Here’s what we’re calling it: Cops, Cameras, Care.” 

According to data from the NYPD, there have been 1,813 crimes reported on public transit in New York as of October 16. That’s a 41.4% increase from the same time last year and a 25.5% increase from 2020. 

The NY Post, joined by some pundits, reiterated Zeldin in suggesting that Hochul’s increasing focus on crime and even previously tightening ‘bail reform’ laws were the result of political calculation over governance. 

“I’ve stood at crime scenes outside subway stations countless times, demanding action to keep New Yorkers safe, demanding the Governor call a special session to overhaul cashless bail and other pro-criminal laws, declare a crime emergency, remove DAs who refuse to enforce the law, back the blue, and much more,” read a statement by Zeldin.

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
News Editor for The Messenger Papers.