Farebeating enforcement is the solution to the subway mayhem

Thursday’s self-defense shooting upon a rush-hour Brooklyn A train is emblematic of everything Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams are doing wrong on subway violence.

Hochul’s “send in the troops” strategy failed to stop the carnage, and so will Adams’s insistence that we need more laws. What we need is for someone — anyone — to manage New York City.

The chaos started in a familiar way.  An aggressive 36-year-old man, Dajuan Robinson, got on the train with an angry agenda. He targeted a seated rider (we’ve all sat there, hoping we won’t be the rider singled out), making hate-based comments. “F–k your kind! he screamed. He began making direct threats, and slammed his arm against the pole: “I’ll beat you up!”

The threatened man, 32-year-old Younece Obuad, gets up to defend himself. The older man moves at him, and Obuad has no choice but to engage, but is overpowered. A woman apparently stabs Robinson, to get him off Obuad.

It works, but Robinson then goes rummaging through his backpack — and retrieves a gun. Somehow, Obuad wrests possession of the gun, and shoots off several bullets; at least one hits Robinson in the head, putting him in critical condition.

This mess follows three shooting murders on the subway this year.

The governor has no fix for this. Earlier this month, in response to uproar over the previous three shootings, she deployed 750 National Guard troops, to search bags.

But if Robinson had happened upon a military platoon in the subway — which he didn’t — he could have turned around and carried his stashed gun right back out. Guard bag searches are voluntary; if you don’t want your stuff searched, you can leave.

There was a way to catch Robinson and his gun: he came through the emergency gate to beat the fare. NYPD officers could have stopped him — and compelled him to hand over his bag.

Police are doing that: they’ve taken 17 guns off the subways this year, many through fare-beating stops.

But: of the 12 cases for which information is available, seven of these suspects have either posted bail or been released with no bail.

Plus: there aren’t enough police to do the enforcement we need right now. As NYPD transit chief Michael Kemper said in February, enforcement is at near record levels — but people who got used to lawlessness in 2020 are slow to learn, especially if they’re immediately released.

What’s really needed is a 1990-style sweep. Back then, transit-police chief Bill Bratton, to get people used to enforcement after years of laxity, arrested everyone caught beating the fare, even if it was a first offense, and detained the person while checking warrants.

Arrest people who beat the fare for convenience, rather than give them a civil ticket, and they won’t do it again — freeing up resources for hardcore cases.

But we don’t have near-enough policing power. The transit police headcount, at 2,730, is 435 officers below what it was a decade ago.

And our mayor won’t manage. He won’t make room in his budget for more transit police, so he provides emergency coverage through overtime shifts.

Friday, he philosophized that “public safety is not only the stats. … I can say that crime is down in our subway system … but that means nothing if people don’t feel that.”

Um, it means nothing, because subway crime is up – the violent per-capita felony rate underground is twice as high as it was before 2020. This year, through March 3rd, violent subways are up 8%.

Then, the mayor said that the incident proves that “we are dealing with far too many people in our system that are dealing with severe mental health illnesses. And this is why our pursuit to do involuntary removal in Albany . . . is so important.”

Sure, strengthen the mental-commitment law — but the city and state can already commit dangerous people, and there’s no evidence that this aggressor was having a mental-health crisis. He deliberately brought a gun onto a train, and, when he could have walked away from a fight he began, deliberately located that gun in his bag to resume the fight.

Hochul wants to flood subways with soldiers, and Adams wants to flood our brains with whatever comes to his mind at any moment.

Meanwhile, people are terrified not just of subway criminals, but terrified of acting to defend others, because of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of Daniel Penny for his fatal effort to take down a suspect making violent threats last spring.

If passengers had grabbed Robinson Friday, and held him down to prevent him from grabbing his gun, the story would have been different.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

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