President Utano Calls for Subway Safety Summit with NYPD

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8 -- Local 100 President Tony Utano on Wednesday called for a subway safety summit with NYPD brass to discuss the homeless, inebriated riders and other problems faced by our members. Utano also urged the NYPD to position officers at all terminal stations, where crews must ensure every rider has exited the train.

    “That will ensure that an officer is nearby when a passenger refuses to get off or is incapacitated,” Utano said. “It would shorten police response times, reduce delays in train service, and better safeguard our crews from assaults.”

    Utano invited NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox to bring Transit District commanders and other top officers to a meeting that would focus on the safety and security of Train Operators, Conductors, Cleaners, State Agents and other titles. The idea is for union officers to convey the concerns and describe the problems workers are encountering with the surge in the homeless population and continued threat posed by riders who are drunk, crazy or flat-out criminal, Utano said. Both sides would be able to exchange ideas and share information towards making the subway safer for the membership, Utano said. The NYPD has not made a formal reply to the meeting request or staffing suggestion.

    The issue of homeless in the subway came into the media’s focus again last month after the NY Post published a photograph (above) of a homeless man sleeping underneath a seat on a No. 3 train while oblivious riders sat above him. It’s no laughing matter, as Crystal Young, Chair of the Conductor/Tower Division, recently told the Post. "When you wake somebody up, you don’t know what state they are going to be in,” Young said. “Sometimes people (transit workers) are attacked. Sometimes they are spit on.”

    The media also recently reported extensively about a video showing a Train Operator pulling an apparently drunken man through a train car towards the door. The Operator has been taken off active duty but not suspended. Local 100 will “vigorously” defend the Operator if he is subject to disciplinary action,” Utano vowed.