Women’s Anti-Violence Groups, Subway and Bus Workers Unite to Combat Sexual Assault, Harassment and Other Crimes on the Public Transit System

Support legislators’ bills to require NYPD to report mass transit crime by precinct line and route
June 2, 2010
Assemblymembers Jim Brennan (D Brooklyn), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Cities, Richard L. Brodsky (D Westchester), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions and Senator Bill Perkins (D Manhattan), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, have each introduced bills in the State Legislature to address the lack of a reporting system for crime in the public transit system, including assaults, sex offenses and harassment where women are frequent targets.

Brennan’s bill (A 10444a) addresses the complete lack of a reporting system for crime in the public transit system, including crimes commonly understood by the public as sexual harassment and sexual assault. This bill would require the NYPD to report crimes according to specific offenses, including assault, sex offenses like forcible touching, and harassment. Further, the bill would require that these data be reported according to the police precincts, the line or route on which they occur and whether the victim is a transit employee, a passenger or other non-employee. The information would be reported monthly, compiled annually and made publicly available.

“By reporting the locations and nature of complaints in the public transit system on a monthly basis, the public will gain critical information to hold the NYPD and the MTA accountable for reducing crime,” said Mr. Brennan.

Assemblymember Brodsky has introduced and the Assembly has passed an act to compel the MTA to submit annual reports on assaults, including sexual assaults, attacks, injuries or deaths in connection with MTA facilities (A 5810). Such reports would provide recommendations to avoid or reduce the frequency of such assaults and attacks.

"With MTA ridership totaling over 2.3 billion, it is imperative that we take every step necessary to make all commuters feel that their safety and protection is a paramount concern. Ensuring that there is a timely and effective reporting system for these very serious crimes will be another important step to protect those who rely on the MTA as their principal method of transportation," Mr. Brodsky stated.

Companion bills to Brennan’s and Brodsky’s respective Assembly bills have been introduced in the Senate by Senator Perkins (S 7419 and S 5010).

“The MTA’s failure to track and report sexual misconduct has endangered women by allowing predators to operate in the shadows. These bills represent a critical first step towards addressing a problem that is bubbling just beneath the surface. The failure to appropriately protect women who commute daily to work and school is like aiding and abetting the criminals who harass them. I consider these bills the opening salvo against sexual predators on the transit system,” Mr. Perkins stated.

These State Legislators, as well as New York City elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, have worked closely with New Yorkers for Safe Transit (NYFST), a coalition of organizations and advocates dedicated to the elimination of gender and discrimination–based violence within the public transit system. In 2007 NYFST collaborated with Borough President Stringer on a report entitled “Hidden In Plain Sight,” which revealed that of those surveyed, 63% reported having been sexually harassed in the New York City subway system and 10% reported having been sexually assaulted in the system. Yet, there is no MTA or NYPD public reporting mechanism in place.

"With the recent cutbacks in MTA Station agents, victims of sexual harassment and assault will have fewer options to prevent, stop, and report these incidents," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "Assemblyman Brennan's bill will require the NYPD to systematically collect and publicly report information about the most dangerous areas of our mass transit system, so that passengers will be better protected. With this bill in place, passengers will be more informed and, as a result, safer on their commutes. I want thank Assemblymembers Brennan and Brodsky and Senator Perkins for their diligent work on this issue."

The NYFST coalition members include RightRides for Women’s Safety, Girls for Gender Equity, HollaBackNYC, New York City Anti-Violence Project, Center for Anti-Violence Education, and Transport Workers Local 100. Coalition members are visiting with State Legislators in Albany today, to lobby for passage of these bills.