New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Students wary of Hochul’s subway security plan

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to deploy National Guard soldiers in the New York City transit system has been met with concerns from many riders, including NYU students.
Manasa Gudavalli
Private security guards stand at the emergency exit door of the West Fourth Street-Washington Square subway station. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent decision to station hundreds of National Guard troops and police officers has stirred a debate over subway safety among New Yorkers, including NYU students who said they saw the move as unnecessary. The increase in law enforcement presence comes after a streak of violent subway crimes, and is intended to make riders feel safer.

Hochul announced on March 6 that the city would deploy around 750 national guard soldiers and 250 state and MTA police officers in the transit system as part of a five-point plan to address subway safety concerns. Hochul told The Washington Post that the added security is temporary, but declined to specify how long the system would be in use. 

The plan involves having National Guard soldiers and police perform bag searches, additional security cameras in every subway car, $20 million in funding for a mental health crisis program and a proposed bill allowing judges to ban convicted people from using transit services.

“It’s a bit ridiculous,” Tisch junior Santiago Ligorria said. “I just think it’s a waste of money.” 

The change, which reminded many New Yorkers of soldiers being stationed in the public transit system after 9/11, has also been criticized by former members of law enforcement who said the National Guard is not well prepared to handle subway crime. Experts told Gothamist that soldiers are not well-versed in local laws or proper handcuffing methods, and that they may struggle to communicate with the New York City Police Department or MTA.

Hochul also said that riders have the right to refuse the bag searches, but that officers can ask them to leave the station. According to City Hall, police will send out 94 bag screening teams across 136 subway stations each week, but did not specify at which stations. 

Soon after soldiers were first deployed, Hochul banned the use of long guns — a type of firearm with a longer barrel often carried by National Guard soldiers. Officers may still be armed with assault weapons within the station, but will not display them at bag checkpoints.

Compared to the same time last year, transit crime is up 16.7%, with grand larceny being the most common subway crime in the last month. While total crime was higher in January compared to last year, the current number of reported crimes is lower than it was this time in 2023. 

“It’s sort of a nothingburger that it’s even being circulated,” CAS senior Seamus Porter said. “I don’t think it’s the right time to do this.”

The decision to deploy National Guard soldiers and police officers in the transit system is also intended to fight partisan narratives that Democrats are “soft on crime,” Hochul said in a recent interview with MSNBC. Mayor Eric Adams has taken a similar approach to Hochul regarding subway safety, having positioned 1,000 police officers at stations across the city in February. 

“I noticed police presence months ago, and I assumed it was around the time they bumped up the subway fare,” CAS senior Vaishali Shaw said. “So when I noticed more police officers, I thought, ‘Oh they’re stationing people here to catch fare evaders.’”

Contact Dharma Niles at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Dharma Niles
Dharma Niles, Deputy News Editor
Dharma Niles is a first-year student currently studying journalism and politics at CAS, and has yet to choose between the six different minors she'd also like to pursue. You can generally find her playing NYT games, skittering around the city with a Celsius in hand or on Instagram @dharmaniles.
Manasa Gudavalli
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and

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