Criminals evade arrest at NYC’s Union Square subway station, which houses a NYPD precinct

 The Union Square subway station houses one of the NYPD’s largest and most visible transit precincts — yet criminals regularly evade arrest at the busy transit hub.

Former NYC Transit president Sarah Feinberg — who lives near Union Square — said she’s been aware of crime problems at the station for years, and even has firsthand experience with creeps lurking in the station.

Feinberg said she recently flagged to police a man in the who turned out to be a serial sex offender and was later collared by cops.

She wonders if enough cops are assigned to the precinct. Though the state-run MTA hosts the NYPD in subway stations, Transit Bureau officers work for city government.

“I raised the issue that they may be short-staffed given the size of the district,” Feinberg said.

Few straphangers have NYPD brass on speed dial. But despite leaving the MTA in July, Feinberg remains in regular contact with leaders at Transit District 4, which operates from a sprawling underground facility in the station’s mezzanine.

“I always found the district leadership to be extremely responsive,” Feinberg told the Daily News.

Some recent crimes back Feinberg’s belief the station could use more cops.

A high profile crime hit the station last month when a crazed man smacked an unsuspecting straphanger in the head with a hammer on the northbound N/Q/R/W platform, knocking the victim, Rakesh Sharma, unconscious as he fell onto the tracks.

Cops caught the attacker — identified as Jamar Newton — a day later, but not through their own policework. An 18-year-old man who Newton robbed of his chain Sunday tracked down the hammer-wielding attacker in East Harlem and tussled with him until cops intervened, leading to Newton’s arrest.

That Newton easily evaded the clutches of cops at Union Square’s police station is not unusual.

An attacker in February randomly shoved a 30-year-old man off a platform at the station as a downtown R train pulled into the station. The assailant easily escaped on the Q line.

In May — a day after Mayor de Blasio announced a surge of 250 new cops into the subway following pressure by MTA officials over crime concerns — a man was stabbed in the neck in the Union Square station by an attacker who easily fled on a Brooklyn-bound train.

Less than a month later another man was stabbed in the neck at the station — and his attacker was caught because the victim was an off-duty cop who was able to hold a train in the station as the attacker tried to flee.

Transit District 4 covers subway stations up and down Manhattan’s East Side, all the way north to E. 125th St. in Harlem. That includes the Lexington Ave. Line, the subway’s busiest stretch.

The attacker was caught on video at the station, which has dozens of surveillance cameras. He strolled by Transit District 4′s headquarters while Sharma lay unconscious and bleeding from his head.

“I have no idea how he got away,” Sharma, 44, recalled to the Daily News. “I saw the video, he seems to be very coolly sauntering off after he hit me with a hammer.

“There were five officers who were with me when I was taken out of the station on a stretcher. Where were they?”

NYPD data shows the number of major crimes reported in Transit District 4 this year through Aug. 16 fell slightly from the same period of 2020, from 125 to 115. But felony assaults in the district have shot up 56%, from 23 to 36, and two rapes were recorded in the district this year, compared to none at this point in 2020.

Other police data suggest cops at the station are more occupied with ticketing fare evaders than policing for violent criminals. Cops at Union Square recorded 584 fare evasion summonses from April through the end of June, nearly twice as many as any other station in the city.

Cops and some MTA board members have said fare enforcement is a good way to catch criminals before they strike. But with eight different subway lines and five platforms running through the busy hub, turnstiles are far from its only point of entry.

“Apparently there’s a lot more to public safety beyond broken windows policing,” said Danny Pearlstein, spokesman for the advocacy group Riders Alliance that in recent years has argued against deploying more cops to the subways.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said subway crime overall is down this summer — and added that the agency’s installation of subway cameras is the best thing it can do to deter crime.

“The city surged officers, the MTA added cameras and security guards, and cooperation with the NYPD has delivered results,” said Donovan. “As we’ve said repeatedly, if you prey on riders in the subways or on a bus you’re almost certain to have your picture taken and be on an express track to justice.”

Criminals evade arrest at NYC’s Union Square subway station, which houses a NYPD precinct Criminals evade arrest at NYC’s Union Square subway station, which houses a NYPD precinct Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 09:04 Rating: 5

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