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Mayor Adams, NYPD Commissioner Caban to Pilot New Technology, Announce Additional Clinicians to be Deployed in Subways

March 28, 2024

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New Technology to Detect Weapons to Be Piloted 90 Days After Publication of Impact and Use Policy as Required by Law

City to Begin Hiring Clinicians to Support Expansion of SCOUT Pilot Program to Help Untreated Severe Mental Illness with $20 Million State Investment

New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Edward A. Caban today announced efforts being taken to make the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) subway system safer by investing in new technology to detect firearms, as well as invest in more clinicians that will help those suffering from severe mental illness in the nation's largest subway system. The city is exploring, and will soon begin piloting, emerging technologies designed to detect weapons carried by travelers into the transit system. In accordance with the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act, the NYPD also published online its Impact and Use Policy for electromagnetic weapons detection systems, starting a mandatory 90-day waiting period before new technology can be tested and used in New York City. Additionally, Mayor Adams announced that the city will begin hiring clinicians to support the expansion of the Subway Co-Response Outreach Teams (SCOUT), a pilot program launched in partnership with the state and the MTA to connect people with untreated severe mental illness in the subways to mental health treatment and care.

"Keeping New Yorkers safe on the subway and maintaining confidence in the system is key to ensuring that New York remains the safest big city in America," said Mayor Adams. "Today's announcement is the next step in our ongoing efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of our transit system and to provide greater mental health services for New Yorkers in crisis. By kicking off a 90-day waiting period to test electromagnetic weapons detection systems here in New York City and hiring more clinicians for SCOUT, we are showing our administration's dedication to keeping all New Yorkers safe."

"Since the start of my administration, Mayor Adams and I have worked together closely to keep the subways safe for all New Yorkers," said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. "This month, I announced a five-point plan to improve safety in the subways, including dedicating $20 million to expand the SCOUT program, which will help more New Yorkers receive the treatment they need. The new technology announced today builds on our existing commitments to place cameras throughout the system and will help law enforcement keep dangerous weapons out of the system."

"People with untreated serious mental illness taking refuge in the subway system deserve safety, stability, and community," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. "The journey to this destination takes time, but the first step is often the hardest: connecting a person with medical care that they may not recognize they need. This is the critical mission of our SCOUT teams. Through a co-response model, SCOUT empowers our caring clinicians to engage with New Yorkers in crisis, assess their needs, and respond accordingly. We are heartened by the results so far, excited for the possibilities with this expansion, and grateful to our MTA partners for their shared determination to get this right."

"The brave men and women of the NYPD are averaging more than 4,500 gun arrests a year since the start of this administration and have taken well over 15,000 illegal firearms off New York City streets so far," said NYPD Commissioner Caban. "At the same time, overall crime in our transit system continues to trend downward as our officers actively engage lawbreakers each day and night. To make these achievements meaningful for all New Yorkers, however, we must make safety a reality in every community we serve, on every train line we protect. We are doing that by remaining laser-focused on the relatively small number of people who commit violent crimes, by deploying our resources effectively, by maximizing the utility of new technology, and by constantly evaluating our performance in a relentless effort to do even better."

"Riders have to feel safe when riding the subways and that requires innovation – new weapons detection technology, but also increased deployments of police, tougher handling of repeat offenders by the criminal justice system, and expanded resources for mental health," said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. "Thankfully, Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul get it and continue to fight for the millions of people who rely on the transit system."

During the 90-day waiting period, the NYPD will be working to identify companies with proven expertise in weapons detection technology. At the end of the waiting period, a pilot program will be instituted in some subway stations where the NYPD will be able to further evaluate the equipment's effectiveness.

As of Sunday, March 24, 2024, NYPD officers have seized a total of 450 weapons – including 19 illegal guns – in the New York City transit system this year, compared to 261 weapons – including nine guns – during the same period last year. The NYPD also seized 1,515 weapons in the subway system in 2023, including 1,470 cutting instruments and 45 illegal firearms. That tally was a stark increase from the previous year, when 947 total weapons were seized, including 912 cutting instruments and 35 guns.

Last month, Mayor Adams directed the NYPD to surge an additional 1,000 police officers into the subway system each day to keep help New Yorkers safe. Additionally, earlier this week, the NYPD announced "Operation Fare Play," an initiative to ensure people pay their fare when entering the subway system by deploying 800 more police officers into the subway system to crack down on fare evasion. Through Sunday, overall crime in the transit system was down nearly 16 percent for the month of March, compared to the same month last year, adding to February's 15.4 percent month-over-month decrease in crime in the subway system. Since the start of 2024, overall arrests in the subway system are up nearly 56 percent compared to last year, including a 78 percent increase in fare-evasion arrests and a 111 percent jump in gun arrests.

Launched in October 2023, the SCOUT pilot program has operated with two teams in the subways focused on connecting those with untreated severe mental illness with mental health support and long-term care. SCOUT teams are comprised of a clinician and two MTA police officers, and, in the 90 days of operation, the two teams have moved 90 individuals out of the subway system and into care. Earlier this month, Governor Hochul announced a $20 million investment to scale this pilot and bring the total number of SCOUT teams to 10 by the end of 2025. With this investment from the state, the city will begin hiring additional clinicians to support the expansion of SCOUT and reach even more New Yorkers in need of care.

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