Governor Tells NYC Subway Riders Who Refuse Bag Searches to ‘Go Home’

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday that people who refuse to submit to random bag searches at New York City subway stations should find some other way of getting around the metropolis.

Speaking the day after she announced that National Guard troops would be sent to boost security on the subway amid a string of recent violent crimes, Hochul was asked in a WNYW interview what those who don’t want law enforcement rifling through their belongings should do. “Then go home,” she answered bluntly. “We’re not going to search you—you can say no. But you’re not taking the subway.”

Hochul was grilled about the five-point plan she unveiled Wednesday in an effort to address bloodshed in the subway. The scheme involves sending 750 members of the New York National Guard to the busiest stations on the network to carry out bag checks—measures that Hochul says are necessary to stem the violence that has “shaken the security of New Yorkers.”

“If people are feeling unsafe and won’t come, then I have to do something about it,” she said Thursday.

She cited last week’s case of a “subway conductor with his throat slashed” as being among the recent “fever” of violence that has broken out that she’s attempting to address. (The conductor survived thanks to a doctor on board the train who rushed to his aid.) She also referenced another case of an MTA conductor being struck in the head with a glass bottle in a separate unprovoked attack just hours after Hochul announced her plan to combat crime on the subway.

“We’re gonna take some strong action,” Hochul said. “There’s no search-and-frisk, there’s no stop-and-frisk, there’s no profiling. All this is a deterrent saying: ‘You want to commit a crime? Go somewhere else—not on our subways.’”

Hochul also said the increased law enforcement presence would help to tackle fare evasion, with officers and troops positioned “right near the turnstiles.” “So you want to look in the eyes of the police officer or the MTA transit police or National Guard and still jump the—skip the fare? Go ahead.”

Hochul added that cameras would eventually be monitoring “every single subway.” “I’d rather be in the business of preventing crimes than having to solve them,” she said. “And if people know they’re being watched—that there’s a camera that will record if they harm someone, assault, bring out a gun, have a knife, that they’re going to get caught—I think that’s going to have a powerful effect on the psychology of the criminals.”

“My No. 1 priority is the safety of all New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “If people are anxious in any aspect of their lives, particularly the lifeblood of our region—downstate does not function without a healthy subway system that people have confidence in—I have to do this for them.”

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