Cuomo says ‘there oughta be a law’ against subway troublemakers
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday “there oughta be a law” to keep the subways menace-free following the assault arrest of the suspected serial emergency brake puller — and vowed to “propose” one next year.
But a lawmaker who’s repeatedly introduced legislation to address the problem blamed the state Assembly for failing to act on bills that have consistently passed the state Senate by wide margins.
During an interview with NY1, Cuomo blasted the band of thugs, perverts and other pests who prey on straphangers with such frequency that cops know them by name.
“This is a crisis,” Cuomo said.
“It’s only getting worse and I’m going to propose legislation to the legislature when they come back in January to do something about it.”
Cuomo spoke in the wake of Thursday’s arrest of Isaiah Thompson, 23, for allegedly shoving a woman face-first into an idling subway car during a caught-on-camera incident in a Brooklyn station.
Thomas — who’s allegedly confessed that he likes to “create mayhem” and “inconvenience people” — was previously busted in May for allegedly pulling the emergency brake on a No. 2 train, and is suspected of being behind more than 700 similar incidents, cops have said.
He was free on $10,000 bond in that case, which also involves unrelated allegations that he exposed himself on a different train.
“There oughta be a law that says you don’t have an unlimited right to sexually assault people in the subway. You don’t have an unlimited right to violently attack people in the subways,” Cuomo said.
“You are in many ways in a captive environment. You’re in that car. You can’t get out. And that’s why more police, I think, is right. But there has to be a point where a judge can say, ‘That’s it. You’ve committed too many crimes in the subway. You’ve hurt too many people.’”
Cuomo didn’t detail how his plan would work, but he’s previously voiced support for banning repeat offenders from the subways.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island, Brooklyn) said she’s already “worked with the NYPD and the MTA” on legislation that would both ban repeat offenders for up to seven years and reclassify crimes committed on subways, buses and commuter trains to increase the potential penalties.
Her proposal passed the Senate, 60-2, in June.
Five earlier versions also passed the Senate with no more than nine “no” votes, but companion bills died in committee in the Assembly each time.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here,” Savino said.
“I have spoken to the Assembly ad nauseam about this bill and their response is always the same thing: ‘The current penalties are sufficient’ — which we know they’re not. Penalties are supposed to act as a deterrent, but they think they’re too harsh.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) didn’t return requests for comment.
But one Assembly Democrat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed the situation on a reluctance by liberal lawmakers to go on the record in favor of any tough-on-crime measures.
“They really don’t like to increase any penalties of any kind,” the lawmaker said.
“If you had these bills voted on, and there was no record for who voted for what, I think you would see a dramatic difference in the laws in this state. They’re afraid.”
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) said she thought the proposal “should come to the floor for a full vote.”
“What I am surprised about is [that] the Democratic women in the Assembly who claim to be champions for women aren’t vocal about this,” she said.
“How can you allow women to be sexually assaulted, harassed, groped and not want to see stricter action? They’re tripping over themselves to create more rights for the criminals than victims.”
Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island), who sponsored Savino’s bill in the Assembly, said it was “very important to New Yorkers and I believe its passage is overdue.”
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Manhattan), a member of the Codes Committee that killed the latest legislation, said the rash of recent incidents might prove a tipping point.
“There is a serious problem. There’s a crisis situation. The Cusick legislation might make a difference. I would tend to support it,” Weprin said.
In a prepared statement, Codes Committee Chairman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) said, “I would consider legislation solely focusing on denying access to individuals previously convicted of violent felony offenses on MTA properties.”
In Thompson’s case, he said, “I would like to know how the courts disposed of prior cases if he is a repeat offender as reported, particularly if he is a repeat violent felony offender.”
“Current law provides substantial jail time for that,” Lentol added.
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