Mayor Eric Adams: Big step toward subway safety is getting cops to take their eyes off their iPhones

Police union responds after Mayor Adams calls out cops for using phones on duty

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NEW YORK — Subway safety is on the agenda Wednesday at the MTA‘s monthly board meeting.

It comes a day after Mayor Eric Adams’ move to hold transit cops accountable.

As CBS2’s Elijah Westbrook reported Wednesday, riding the subways can feel like taking a risk in many ways. Some days, straphangers are dealing with extensive delays and suspensions. Other times, it’s avoiding being the next victim to a crime. 

“The mass shooting a couple of weeks ago, you don’t know what to expect,” one rider told Westbrook.

Commuters sounded off about their safety concerns right off the top of the MTA board meeting. 

“Once again, a person got shot and, unfortunately, killed inside our subway system,” one person said.

“We’re going to keep advocating for more policing,” another added. 

On Tuesday, Adams called out transit cops being engrossed in their phones while on duty at subway stations. 

“You see five transit officers standing at the booth looking at their phones,” he said. 

The mayor said he’s seen images like this too far too often. He now wants New Yorkers to tweet him photos of it, claiming he’ll go to the station the next day. 

Talk about taking, “if you see something, say something,” to a whole new level. 

“We are going to start taking very aggressive actions to make sure police are patrolling our subway system and not patrolling their iPhone,” said Adams. 

The New York City Police Benevolent Association responded Wednesday, saying:

“New York City police officers did not ask for NYPD-issued smartphones – we were ordered to carry and use them. We are now required to document every minute of our tour on these phones. Every form we are required to fill out and every alert we receive comes through the phone. If there’s a problem with cops using the phone on duty, NYPD management should change the policies and go back to pen and paper.”

Subway rider Rev. Dr. Ann Marie Bentsi-Addison said, regardless, seeing officers appearing to actively patrol the station and not looking at their phones would make her and others feel more comfortable. 

“To me, if you’re here and you’re actively patrolling, then at least look like you’re actively patrolling.” she told Westbrook. 

Getting more cops on trains is a priority for Adams, who rode the subway when he was a cop back in the day. Part of the plan is allowing a new MTA panel to come up with ways to approach fare evasion, something the mayor says he supports. 

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