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New York will send National Guard to subways in wake of violent crimes

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced plans Wednesday to send the National Guard to the New York City subway system to help police search passengers’ bags for weapons, following a series of high-profile crimes on city trains.

Hochul, a Democrat, said she will deploy 750 members of the National Guard to the subways to assist the New York Police Department with bag searches at entrances to busy train stations.

“For people who are thinking about bringing a gun or knife on the subway, at least this creates a deterrent effect. They might be thinking, ‘You know what, it just may just not be worth it because I listened to the mayor and I listened to the governor and they have a lot more people who are going to be checking my bags,’” Hochul said at a news conference in New York City.

The move came as part of a larger effort from the governor’s office to address crime in the subway, which included a legislative proposal to ban people from trains if they are convicted of assaulting a subway passenger and the installation of cameras in conductor cabins to protect transit workers.

The deployment of the National Guard would bolster an enhanced presence of NYPD officers in the subway system. The governor said she will also send 250 state troopers and police officers for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency, to help with the bag searches.

Overall, crime has dropped in New York City since a spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, and killings are down on the subway system. But rare fatal shootings and shovings on the subway can put residents on edge. Just last week, a passenger slashed a subway conductor in the neck, delaying trains.

Police in New York have long conducted random bag checks at subway entrances, though passengers are free to refuse and leave the station, raising questions of whether the searches are an effective policing tactic in a subway system that serves over 3 million riders per day.

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