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Turnabout is ‘Fare Play’: NYPD says fare evasion operation led to 175 arrests of armed or drug-carrying suspects in a week


NYPD transit brass said Tuesday that “Operation Fare Play” was a winning move for public safety, resulting in 175 arrests of dangerous criminals during a concentrated effort to combat fare evasion. 

The week-long initiative between April 8-12 saw an extra 150 cops per day were posted at turnstiles solely to stop fare evaders, complementing a surge of about 1,000 officers daily into the subways to keep the peace. NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said it was just an extension of what cops below ground do every single day.

“We started our increased presence back in the first week of February, so just about six weeks ago,” Chief Kemper said in a sit-down interview with amNewYork Metro. “Crime is down over the last six weeks since we started investment. So, this investment of cops and initiatives are paying dividends.”

“We started our increased presence back in the first week of February, so just about six weeks ago,” Chief Kemper said in a sit-down interview with amNewYork Metro. “Photo by Dean Moses

According to Kemper, subway crime is down about 18% in the last six months when compared to the same time the previous year. It likewise sharply fell 25% in the last four weeks.

This is a result, Kemper said, of both initiatives like “Operation Fare Play” and the strategic placement of cops at turnstiles.

“This is the first location that riders come into the subway system. If they see open acts of lawlessness, such as fare evasion or other disorderly behavior, it just creates the impression in their mind that this is a lawless environment,” Kemper said. “Not every fare evader is a criminal. But just about 100% of all people that are perpetrating crimes in our subway are not paying their fare, that I can say with certainty.”

Time and again, police executives have charged that those who either hop turnstiles or barge their way through emergency gates are often found either bringing weapons into the transit system or are connected to other serious crimes such as attempted murder. The NYPD says last week’s Operation Fare Play was no different.

Over the course of the 5-day period, officers were posted at 35 separate turnstile locations, ensuring that no spot was hit twice and was selected based on data indicating the most problematic stations.

According to Transit Bureau Deputy Chief Timothy Skretch, 175 people were arrested as a direct result of the operation, 18 of which were felonies and 157 were misdemeanors. Twenty-seven of those cuffed had active warrants and 12 people had probable cause to be arrested for a previous crime.

Time and time again police executives have charged that those who either hop turnstiles or barge their way through emergency gates are often found either bringing weapons into the transit system or are connected to other serious crimes such as attempted murder.Photo by Dean Moses

“We speak specifically about arrests, but arrests are not the goal of this, it is to correct behavior. During the course of this operation, there were 672 people that simply received a civil summons,” Skretch added.

Still, many weapons were also recovered during the operation. Chief Skretch poured over photographs of drugs, guns, knives, and even brass knuckles, all of which, he said, were confiscated from fare evaders.

According to Transit Bureau Deputy Chief Timothy Skretch, 175 people were arrested as a direct result of the operation, 18 of which were felonies and 157 were misdemeanors.Photo by Dean Moses

Although police officials noted that stopping fare evasion is imperative, some have accused the department of unfairly zeroing in low-income New Yorkers and racial profiling. Chief Kemper adamantly denied this, stating that the NYPD only and simply stops those who disregard the law no matter their age, race, or creed.

“Here’s what I’ll say with certainty: We don’t do any enforcement, focusing on any sort of demographics or race — period. End of story,” Kemper said.

Law enforcement brass say that “Operation Fare Play” was so successful that they expect it to return in the near future.

“This is the first location that riders come into the subway system. If they see open acts of lawlessness, such as fare evasion or other disorderly behavior, it just creates the impression in their mind that this is a lawless environment,” Kemper said, noting the importance of catching fare evaders.Photo by Dean Moses