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Caught-on-video subway incidents lead advocates to gripe about police enforcement of subway rules and petty crime




Too many cops are chasing too many minor offenders on the subways, say groups advocating for less aggressive enforcement of transit rules and minor crimes.

A pair of caught-on-video incidents fueled the complaints — and led Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Monday to call on Gov. Cuomo to call off plans to deploy 500 MTA police officers to the subways.

In one of the two incidents — which both occurred Friday — about 10 cops surrounded a fare beater suspected of carrying a gun. In another, a group of cops broke up a big brawl between warring groups of teens.

Police overreacted to both incidents, said Williams. He said the cops’ overly-aggressive response to the incidents show Cuomo’s plan to deploy more MTA officers is unnecessary, and nothing more than a way for the governor to get one up on Mayor de Blasio.

“Cuomo, I know you always want to top the mayor … he (Cuomo) thinks sending more police will top him,” said WIlliams.

Instead, Williams said, if Cuomo wants to outdo de Blasio, he should make the trains run better. “If you want to top him, fix the subway,” he advised the governor.

The incident involving the brawling teens also caught the ire of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former cop.

Adams noted that video of that incident caught a cop hitting of the teens in the face.

“You cannot openly punch a young person in the face merely because you are caught up in the aggression of the moment,” Adams said at a news conference. “That situation could have turned into a riot if the other officers there didn’t follow the appropriate protocol.”

The officer Adams complained about will be “placed in a non-enforcement assignment” while the incident is reviewed, said a police spokeswoman.

Cuomo’s decision to hire more cops at the MTA is already in motion, and comes as the agency faces an operating deficit of nearly $200 million next year.

De Blasio said on NY1 on Monday night that he supports Cuomo’s plan. “Having additional officers is going to help people be safer,” the mayor said.

In the fare beating incident, cops responded to an alert for a man with a gun outside Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center subway station at around 4:40 p.m. Friday.

When officers approached the suspect, Adrian Napier, 19, he ran onto a No. 4 train, said an NYPD spokesman.

Officers quickly caught up with Napier when the No. 4 train stopped at the Franklin Ave. station.

Video of the arrest shows at least 10 police officers, some pointing firearms, rushing onto the train while frightened passengers cleared out of their way. Napier, a Brooklyn resident,put his hands in the air and was thrown to the floor by an officer.

It turned out that Napier did not have a gun on him and “the investigation determined that report to be unfounded,” said police.

Instead, Napier was arrested for skipping the $2.75 subway fare and charged with theft of service. Police said he was also wanted “for questioning in regard to a past larceny.”

De Blasio said police appeared to have reacted properly.

“I looked at that video. Every situation is looked at after the fact,” he said. “Passengers or citizens identified that individual as someone they saw with a gun … the imperative is to make sure there’s no danger to anyone. The vast majority of New Yorkers would want to make sure that person [would] be restrained.”

Elad Nehorai, who recorded a video of the arrest widely shared online, told reporters at a press conference organized by criminal justice reform groups at City Hall Monday that Napier was “completely cooperating” when he was arrested and that there was “terror in his eyes.”

“I want to make very clear that the entire train was affected by this,” said Nehorai. “What we’re talking about is a population of people that is being systematically traumatized.”

Police have said they will arrest people they catch beating the fare if they have outstanding warrants, are on parole or probation, or have been busted by NYPD Transit cops more than once in the past two years.

Fare evasion arrests have declined this year — though, NYPD data shows the vast majority of those nabbed for the crime are black or Latino.

Two hours before Napier’s arrest — at around 2:20 p.m. Friday — police were involved in a brawl with a group of quarreling teens at the Jay St.-MetroTech subway station in downtown Brooklyn..

Five kids involved in the donnybrook were arrested — but advocates and elected officials on Monday raised concerns about the way the situation was handled, including the actions of the punch-throwing officer.

Williams called for the NYPD to release the name of the officer who punched the kids at Jay St.-MetroTech. He said the officer, who is white, had an implicit bias against the children, who are people of color.

“We have to understand what implicit bias is,” Williams said at the press conference outside City Hall. “It means in the second or two you have to make a decision, what happens when you see black skin?”

Asked for comment, Cuomo spokesman Peter Ajemian said: “The incidents captured by video over the weekend are very disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated.”



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Three separate homicides across city this weekend under investigation





The weekend was especially busy for homicide detectives across the city as three people were killed since Thursday night in separate murders, police said.

Police were also seeking a possible wounded person from a shooting on a Brooklyn train Saturday night.

The violence began Thursday, Nov. 14 at about 9:05 p.m. when police from the 34th Precinct responded to a 911 call of shots fire in the vicinity of Sherman Avenue and Thayer Street in the Bronx.

Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement sources said, officers were told about a 20-year-old man who had arrived at New York Presbyterian Hospital, via private means, with gunshot wounds to the legs.

The victim, identified as Luis Dela Cruz, of 36 Arden Avenue, was subsequently pronounced deceased at the hospital. There are no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing.

On Friday, Nov. 15, at about 9:15 p.m., 17-year-old Talasia Cuffie of Vernon Boulevard in Long island City, Queens, was found stabbed in the chest multiple times along 166th Street in South Jamaica. Paramedics rushed her to Jamaica Hospital. where she was pronounced dead.

Sources said Cuffie was stabbed only hours after attending a memorial for her friend, Aamir Griffin, 14, who was shot to death on by a stray bullet 21 days earlier.

Hours later, at about 3:44 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, police in Brooklyn responded to a 911 call of male shot in front of the Lafayette Garden Houses, a NYCHA development. Officers found a 34-year-old man shot multiple times in the chest. EMS rushed him to Brooklyn Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim has not yet been identified, and no arrests have been made.

Shooting aboard train

Meanwhile, cops are also investigating a reported shooting on board the Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn Saturday evening.

Police say a group became embroiled in a dispute either aboard or on the platform of the Franklin Avenue shuttle as it sat in the station at Prospect Park and Flatbush Avenue Saturday night at about 8:40 p.m. Police were checking hospitals in the borough for possible person shot, but could not confirm that anyone was hit.

A transit worker inside a maintenance room at the station said he heard a large group of teens running from the station, but he didn’t hear the shots. Police were holding the motorman after the shooting for questioning.

The suspect was described as male black, 5’9″ with a dark hoodie.

The shuttle was shut down for the duration of the investigation as evidence collection units collected spent shells and a bullet that may have been lodged in a wall of the train.

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By  Todd Maisel

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MTA News

Advocates: MTA Board Must Get Moving On Congestion Pricing Details




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In less than one year, the state-mandated Traffic Mobility Review Board can issue its nuts-and-bolts recommendations for how congestion pricing is supposed to work, what it will cost, and who will get much-desired exemptions from the toll.

Of course, there’s a few things that need to happen first — primarily Mayor de Blasio and the MTA Board have to actually appoint members to this obscure board, get it an office so it can start the work of setting those tolls and exemptions, and start holding meetings (which are supposed to be public, but might not be!).

On Friday, a coalition of 20 good government and transit advocacy groups including Reinvent Albany, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Council, the Citizens Budget Commission and the Straphangers Campaign fired the first warning shot, with a letter reminding the politicians who passed the tolling scheme earlier this year that the hard work of actually designing and then implementing congestion pricing still needs to be done before it supposed to (magically!) begin in January, 2021.

The Traffic Mobility Review Board is supposed to comprise one chairperson and five members: one appointed by Mayor de Blasio and the rest appointed by the MTA Board/Gov. Cuomo, though two members must be from the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North service areas.

Asked if the MTA Board had held any discussions about the board and who will be appointed to it, de Blasio’s MTA Board appointee Veronica Vanterpool told Streetsblog it had not. Noting that she felt it could wait until after December’s decision on the 2020 MTA budget, Vanterpool still urged the Board to prioritize the TMRB going forward.

“All eyes are on NYC for this rollout, so we shouldn’t squander time,” Vanterpool said. “January, 2021 is around the corner.”

A spokesperson for Cuomo referred Streetsblog to the MTA, and a spokesperson for de Blasio did not respond to a request for comment on potential board appointees.

Nov. 15 was an auspicious date for the good-governance groups to send the letter, because Nov. 15, 2020 is the date when the TMRB can release its recommendations, per the congestion pricing agreement that the state legislature passed this year (observers have pointed out releasing the recommendations on Nov. 15 allowed legislators to avoid any potential consequences in the 2020 election, which is a week earlier).

If those recommendations are approved by the Triborough Bridges & Tunnel Authority, the MTA can start collecting the congestion toll fee as soon as Jan. 1, 2021, although there’s no requirement that the tolling begin that soon (clearly, there is a huge potential for delay). Although the TMRB has not yet been appointed, the MTA has at least selected a vendor to design and operate the tolling infrastructure once the fee is instituted.

With no TMRB holding meetings, there’s no way to know what congestion pricing will look like or even what the price might be. For now, thanks to state lawmakers carving out exemptions, we know that emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting disabled people and drivers passing through the congestion toll zone on the FDR Drive or West Side Highway will be exempt from the fee. In addition, CBD residents making less than $60,000 per year will get a tax credit equal to what they spend on the tolls each year, and an exception is being worked out for drivers who have to move their cars in and out of the CBD border because of alternate-side parking.

Other than that though, the public is only left to speculate. At Tuesday’s state legislative hearing on the MTA’s historic $51.5-billion 2020-2024 capital plan, MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye promised that before the tolls and exemptions are set, there would be pointless kvetching sessions robust public hearings with the TMRB so that MTA Board members could be properly informed.

In September, the Regional Plan Association issued a series of suggestions as to how the congestion toll could be set. The plan that seemed to do the most good, in terms of raising money and reducing congestion during peak hours, was a fee of $9.18 to enter the CBD during the morning rush and the same fee exit it during the evening peak. That charge would raise $1.06 billion and increase traffic speeds in the Manhattan core by 15.6 percent.

The TMRB’s decisions will have enormous consequences for the success of the congestion pricing program, and for the MTA’s historic capital plan. The MTA is banking on raising $1 billion per year with the congestion fee, which they can then turn into $15 billion in bonds for the agency’s capital spending. In addition to setting the tolls and exemptions, the TMRB is also supposed to review the 2020-2024 capital plan at some point, which makes actually appointing its members somewhat urgent since next year is…let’s see here…2020.



By Dave Colon

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MTA News

Contract talks break down between TWU, MTA





NEW YORK (WABC) — Talks between Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the MTA have broken down after both sides have been meeting for the last three days, officials say.

The transit union president claims that the MTA contract demands have “only made the already tense situation worse.”

The union released a statement Thursday evening about MTA Chairman Pat Foye.

“These two days of bargaining have actually set us back,” union president Tony Utano said. “Foye presented us with a new set of demands today that are substantially worse than the insulting package he threw across the table three months ago. Foye not only appears unwilling to negotiate in good faith, he is intentionally spoiling for a confrontation.”

No new talks are scheduled.

The main issues are wages, pension and health benefits, but it all comes amid rising tensions at the MTA and accusations of widespread overtime abuse.

On October 30, members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 rallied outside MTA headquarters, from bus drivers and subway operators to station cleaners and track inspectors. All of them, working without a contract for nearly six months.

MTA officials claimed they have been bargaining in good faith. But unionized workers from the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North are also working without contracts.

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