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Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road gets their own police detail

Bebeto Matthews

Starting in January, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road will have a dedicated unit of police officers ride the commuter rail system to address growing safety concerns of riders and employees.

Riders surveyed in August gave the LIRR its lowest marks for safety, crime and quality of life. Major crimes on the LIRR were up by 73% through August, including theft and violent crimes against riders and employees.

“These are true victims,” MTA Police Commissioner John Mueller said. “These are people that have to go home and then they have to come back to work a lot of the time traumatized. So we're going to be watching this very carefully. And we're going to be advocating for consequences.”

Mueller told the MTA Board during Monday’s meeting the train patrol unit will be deployed with 60 existing officers, following routes to stations with the most ridership.

Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced record ridership numbers for the commuter rail system, back to pre-pandemic levels.

  • Metro-North Railroad set a ridership record, carrying more than 181,600 riders, the highest since at least March 2020. 
  • LIRR carried over 200,000 riders on a weekday for the second time since March 2020. Its record was set earlier in the month since COVID. 

The creation of the new unit will be “cost neutral” to the department, according to the MTA, because it uses existing officers. The MTA police force, with about 1,100 officers, stepped up patrols of LIRR trains earlier this year to combat rising crime. The transit agency has hired 500 additional officers since 2019.

With more commuters on the rails, Mueller said more officers and canines on the platform and trains will keep everyone safe. Starting at 5 a.m., officers will start on either side of the train platform, get on trains and walk to the middle car, while interacting with riders. The goal is to be highly visible to deter crime.

“We want a lot of rider interaction with the officers,” he said, in hopes of deterring crime.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday the MTA won a federal grant to install cameras across New York City’s entire fleet of subway cars, enhancing security coverage. The funding will enable the purchase of 5,400 cameras to be installed on 2,700 subway cars, two per car. It also funds 3,800 cameras at 130 subway stations.

All Metro-North trains are equipped with cameras, and more than 90% of LIRR trains are equipped with security cameras.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.