Saturday, March 09, 2024

Descent into the Abyss: Crime, Drugs and Homelessness in America's Major Subways

I'm sure most of us have seen short video clips on the internet (including TikTok and elsewhere) of individuals, mostly seniors, handicapped, and typically Asian, white, Hispanic, or gay are randomly being punched in the face and knocked out while the assailant either nonchalantly either walks off as if nothing happened or picks up the victim's cell phone, IPad, or maybe their wallet, and walks away without a care in the world.

In fact, it's become so common that it has its own name---the "knockout game". In a majority of cases, the victims  are chosen because they appear unaware and vulnerable. In mostly of these cases, the perpetrator will quietly walk up from behind and hit the victim as hard as they can, knocking them out cold.  By the time someone comes along to help them, their attacker is long gone.

 While many of these attacks happen on sidewalks or street corners,  a large number of them occur in subways. New York's subway system is the largest and busiest in the North America. It encompasses  472 stations on 25 different routes along 665 miles of track.  And despite some 400 surveillance cameras (which aren't live streamed) there's been instances where subway surveillance cameras have even caught individuals attempting to shove  a passenger onto the tracks and into the path of  a oncoming subway train.

There have been countless other instances where passengers are aggressively harassed by these street thugs. In most instances the harassment involves physical  confrontation and rummaging through the victim's personal possessions such as briefcases or purses in search for money or valuables, not to mention stealing laptops and cell phones. 

It's worth mentioning that reports of murder on subways aren't unusual. During an eight month period covering 2022-2023, the New York Transit Authority reported five murders. In 2022 there eight cases of reported rape. Robberies accounted for 396 of the crimes reported in 2022. In 2023, the number of reported robberies was 353, a 11% drop.

Felony assaults stayed about the same from 2022 through 2023 at 374 to 372. There were 700 reports of grand larcenies in 2023, down from 730 the year before. Burglaries, which aren't typically associated with transit related crime and often involve breaking into public lockboxes or storage containers jumped from four in 2022 to ten in 2023. Recently there has been several reported cases of knife attacks in members of the LGBQT community, which has gained a lot of national attention.

Vandalism is rampant when it comes to New York's subway system as dozens of subway stations are "tagged" with graffiti. At the same time, trains, both inside and out, are regularly spray painted ("tagged"), costing New York taxpayers millions to have the "street art" removed.

Nevertheless, the New York Police Department reported just under 9000  transit related arrests in 2023. Meanwhile, some 115, 908 summons were issued by the NYPD for reported crimes. By comparison, let's look at subway related crime in Chicago. So, what else are authorizes doing to make riders safe?

In a unique move, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has announced the purchase of 5,400 cameras to be installed in 2,700 transit cars, including several hundred "hidden" cameras. In addition, the governor is ordering 1000 security professionals to man the various stations and subway cars. This will include 750 members of the New York National Guards, state police, and MTA officers to check all bags at the busier stations.  Way to go governor!

Chicago's subway system covers 224 miles of track along 145 stations. According to the Chicago Transit Authority, it spent $26 million dollars to install 3,600 surveillance cameras  along the line, with extra emphasis along Belmont Street and the "Red Line". 

Still, in 2023, there was 4.7 violent crimes per every one million rides, which is down from 6.2 in 2022. Even non-violent crimes, such as pick pocketing and petty larceny, are showing signs of dropping. The CTA also reported that just 43.5% of reported crimes took place on a CTA train and of those, 35.6% took place on a CTA platform. 

Overall, violent crime, however, was down 16% from August 2022 through August 2023. So, what's the most common complaint about the CTA now that crime seems to be down? It's that many of the stations and some of cars have a strong smell of urine due to the city's large homeless population.

One of the key reasons is that authorizes in City Hall have agreed to spend more money to hire additional police and security officers as well as increase the number of patrols (many of these private security firms include officers with K-9 units, which historically have proven to be a serious deterrent, along with the addition more security cameras, bringing the total to  33,000.

San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (aka "BART") operates the largest subway system on the West Coast.  BART was established in 1957 as a means to link San Francisco, Oakland, and Sausalito to the numerous "bedroom" communities which were sprouting up throughout the Bay Area such as Fremont and Daly City. 

BART operates 50 stations along 131 miles of track, including a nine mile spur to Antioch. It also operates a 3.6 mile tube under the San Francisco Bay connecting Oakland and San Francisco. which has a maximum depth of 135 feet below sea level. (and having traveled it countless times, it was very cool!).

Unlike Chicago's subway system, BART has continued to see a rise in crime, especially open drug use, particularly among the city's burgeoning homeless population. Other complaints is just how filthy the cars and stations have become due to the increase in illegal immigrants as a result of the city's ill-conceived "sanctuary city" policy and changes in laws concerning the homeless.

As a result, ridership on the BART has dropped significantly while those who continue to ride say they routinely bring disinfectant. However, like with Chicago's subway system, it doesn't help much with stench, even for individuals who regularly wearing air filter masks.   

46% of BART riders have reported actually witnessing a crime, ranging from simply stepping over fare gates without paying to open drug use to physical assaults. When it comes to crime, robberies at knife or gun point, are up. In 2023 there were 224 reported violent crimes (in 2022 it was 180).  Of those, armed robberies made up 136 of those while assaults make up the balance.

Rapes have also increased, including attacks during broad daylight. In one instance, a mentally handicapped woman was sexually assaulted, and while he was caught and arrested, he was ultimately changed with two counts of misdemeanors battery, thus avoiding jail time. 

The Bay Area, and San Francisco in particular, has the largest gay community of any major city in the United States. Nevertheless, officials report attacks on gays have significantly increased, especially in the BART. The attacks range from ordinary harassment to assault. But many of the attacks are intentionally hate oriented crimes directed toward gays. One such series of attacks involved the attacked using a razor blade and cutting the victims hands. Many of the assailants arrested are Muslim asylum seekers, though not exclusively.

According to authorities, there are over 4000 security cameras throughout the system. While station activity can reviewed within seconds, incidents on the trains cannot. Only certain cars have cameras and those record events and are reviewed later!  Not surprising, 85% of BART users have said they've reduced or stop their ridership because of rising crime, open drug use, and not feeling safe. A lack of adequate sanitation is a serious problem too. 

However, if those issues could be resolved, 64% of former BART riders said they would resume riding. 79% said they would feel safer if BART would increase the number of security or police officers on each train. Ironically, 33% added that they wouldn't trust the officers to treat everyone fairly. Guess they're concerned about being "PC".

As an aside, London's famous subway system, known as the "Underground" is having similar problems, thanks primarily to the recent increase of "migrants" from Africa. and parts of the Middle East Thefts and robberies have increased 83% over last year---10,836 just between April and September 2023 alone; Assaults have risen 30% to 22,294 in 2023 while ridership has dropped 11% and shows no signs of coming back.

Meanwhile, crime on Moscow's "Metro" subway system is virtually nonexistent, but that's not to say its crime free. Instances of pick pocketing are not unusual. However, reports of violent assault, armed robbery, or rape are practically unheard of.  In addition, the trains are clean, well lit, and typically free of  a homeless population. The reason is because of the presence of security (which can be pretty aggressive toward offenders) and strict laws. The stations are bright, well lit and clean. The public too are very proud of their Metro. Regular riders of Moscow's Metro are known for having a low tolerance of crime no matter how petty.

So what does this all mean? It means that the three more prominent cities, known for their liberal illegal immigration policies, are facing a crisis of their making due to their open door policies. Compounded by this has been their traditionally liberal judicial policies when it comes to crime and punishment. As a result, these major engineering achievements have become dangerous and unsafe for the average resident as well as unprofitable to operate.

Not only has crime become a serious problem, but so has the issue of homelessness as each of the stations have become de facto "shelters". Public restrooms, which were known for being clean and well stocked, are now no longer open, which means the homeless will use anything and everything as their personal restroom, including the trains.

San Francisco's recent changes in laws concerning the homeless permits them to freely occupy public park as camp sites, as well as sleeping in alleys and doorways without being disturbed. Businesses may not keep them out of their stores (including restrooms). They're free to roam about in the stores (even high end ones) without interference. They are free to panhandle and pretty much anything else without interference by law enforcement. In addition, they are allowed to use public sidewalks, trash cans, sewer drains or whatever as restrooms. Can you imagine?

Speaking of stores, a change in a Californian law prohibits taking steps to prevent shoplifting and petty theft. Employees are no longer allowed to detain, block, or say anything to these thieves. All they can do is call the police (who may or may show up to take a report) and alert their managers. The result is a 81% increase in thefts. One example is San Francisco's main business center along Market Street, which is now almost totally deserted, costing the city millions in tax revenue.

The thefts have also had a ripple effect. It's resulted in dramatic price increases as stores pass along the costs to consumers. It's also resulted in stores closing, some are moving while others are closing permanently. Either way the result is the same, and while depressed communities are complaining about the loss of access to grocery and drugs stores, they ignore the economics of the thefts.

What further proof do we need that the United States needs a comprehensive immigration policy to eliminate its  de facto "open door" policy and halfhearted enforcement. Along the same lines, the federal government needs to take steps to end "sanctuary" cities.

Some have suggested that the best solution is to restrict any taxpayer assistance directed toward the city. New York alone receives $396 billion in federal aid.  However, of that just 9% of New York City's budget is derived from federal aid and of that, the majority goes to 11 agencies which deal with poverty relief.

Another related and just as serious issue is that of homelessness especially veterans, the disabled, mentally ill, and children. There is simply no excuse whatsoever that this country, as wealthy as it is, should have a homeless problem of this magnitude. Many are homeless due to lack of affordable housing. Others because their salaries are unable to keep up with the rising cost in practically everything (especially medical and prescriptions), as well as mental illness and chronic drug and alcohol abuse.

In December 2022, President Biden proposed a "housing first" strategic plan to reduce homelessness 25% by 2025. So far that plan is showing no signs of working. In 2023, there was an estimated 653,104 chronic homeless individuals in the United States, a 12% increase over the previous year. The number of homeless veterans is estimated at 35,574, an increase of 7% over 2022. 

As an aside, California, and in particular San Francisco and Los Angeles, leads the nation with the highest homeless population. It's followed by New York, with the Big (Rotten) Apple being the epicenter. Illinois is 11th in nation. It should be pointed out that since 2020, homelessness has dropped an overall 40%, which obviously contributes to drop in crime in Chicago's subways.

All these are the consequences of a inadequate immigration policy, a lack of affordable housing, a failed healthcare system, and substandard education (which includes a serious lack of discipline), and poor planning. Crime must be seriously addressed, especially race based assaults which get brushed off by the media. Current efforts at non-stigmatizing so-called "petty theft" and shoplifting or dismissing it because as a side effect of race is destined for economic and social disaster in short order.

America could still have a "Silver Age " ahead of it, but only if these problems are seriously addressed in a open matter free from politically correct ("woke") imposed censorship. That will require a focused effort, dedicated and well informed individuals and non-partisan discussion. if not, then a our decline will not only continue, it will accelerate exponentially.  


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New York subway crime sees downturn so far this year whilearrests and summons soar

Gov. Kathy Hochul sending National Guard members to New Yorksubways combat ongoing crime

Chicago transit violent crime down as police, securitypatrols increase

CTA Crime Continues Downward Trend

BART commuters say crime, open drug use keeping people awayfrom the transit system.

46% of BART riders say they witnessed crime in the system,poll shows

Moscow's Metro

London's lawless Underground...

Knockout Game

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