Vera Institute of Justice Opposes Deployment of National Guard and State Police in NYC Subway System


Contact: Trip Eggert,

NEW YORK, NY (March 8, 2024) The Vera Institute of Justice opposes New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent decisions to flood the New York City subway system with members of the National Guard and State Police, as well as her proposal to ban some New Yorkers with conviction histories from riding the subways. New Yorkers deserve real solutions to address concerns about crime and safety, not scare tactics and “security theater.” The city needs investments in safer and more accessible subways, not unenforceable mandates that stigmatize and deprive thousands of New Yorkers with a felony conviction from riding the subways.

Jullian Harris-Calvin, director of Greater Justice New York at the Vera Insitute of Justice, said: “New Yorkers, whether they work or commute on the subway, deserve to be safe on our transit system, and elected officials must invest in real solutions to prevent crime, respond to crisis, and stop violence so that the subways are safe for all. To address concerns about visible homelessness, mental illness, or disorderly conduct on the subway or in a station, riders and MTA workers should be able to call a trained specialist to connect a person to shelter, care, and services. To address concerns about turnstile jumping and fare evasion, the MTA should be able to install full-length barrier gates and expand the Fair Fares program. To address concerns about random violence towards MTA workers, there are modifications that can be made to the subway cars themselves to better protect staff. There are many real solutions that will address concerns about crime and safety and they do not rely on more law enforcement presence or excluding people from taking advantage of one of New York City’s greatest public goods—public transportation."

Insha Rahman, vice president of advocacy and partnerships at the Vera Institute of Justice and the director of Vera Action, said: “Governor Hochul’s recent actions to address concerns about the city’s subway system are out of step with what New Yorkers know works to prevent crime, respond to crisis, and stop violence. According to a November 2023 Vera Action poll of New York State voters, respondents ranked untreated mental health and addiction issues, as well as increased poverty and homelessness, as the two biggest drivers of crime. In the same survey, when given the choice between more police officers or trained specialists to respond to a crisis on the subway, 52 percent of New York City voters chose trained specialists compared to 38 percent in favor of more law enforcement. New Yorkers see through the scare tactics and “security theater,” what they want are real solutions.”

Daniela Gilbert, director of Redefining Public Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice, said: “New Yorkers want trained specialists on the subways, not more law enforcement. There are many nonviolent situations—including situations involving mental health, substance use, homelessness, poverty, neighbor disputes, truancy, and other unmet needs—that unarmed responders can handle without police, improving safety in the New York City Subway.

“Moreover, the exorbitant costs associated with NYPD overtime pay and fare evasion crackdowns divert resources from more effective and equitable solutions. Last year, NYPD overtime pay in the subways jumped from $4 million to $155 million—a nearly 4000 percent increase in costs that resulted in a mere 2 percent drop in major crimes. Instead of investing in measures that prioritize community well-being and address the systemic issues driving crime, these expenditures only serve to exacerbate existing inequalities and injustices.

“As an organization committed to ending mass incarceration, fighting for immigrants’ rights, and building safe, thriving communities. the Vera Institute of Justice calls on Governor Hochul and other policymakers to reconsider their approach to subway safety. We urge them to prioritize evidence-based solutions that address the underlying causes of crime, promote community well-being, and uphold basic fairness and justice for all New Yorkers.”


About the Vera Institute of Justice: The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit