A Century of Subways
Often at the entry to the subway or on the station itself, riders see policemen and women sometimes with dogs, and, less often with rifles. I sought to enquire from New Yorkers nearby those stations and officers themselves of the reason for their presence there.The first person I interviewed was lady who uses the subway on a daily basis mainly in the early mornings and late evenings. I started by asking her whether she sees police men or women on the subways when she is going to work.
She replied, “For whatever reason, I normally see policemen in the subways a lot more often nowadays. Just the other morning, I saw a number of police officers standing in the subway station having police dogs and carrying Uzzis” I then asked her to tell me in her views to what she thinks is their reason to be there. She said, “I think it is because of the posters which have been appearing recently with regards to personal space. At last, the harassment of women in subways has come to the attention of the police. Nowadays ladies are being encouraged to report if they are groped. Personally I have encountered some naughty hands on this subway, and I’m certain that other women have encountered them too. When someone is standing in a tight spot where there is nowhere to run, you are quite exposed. it is very easy that you might not suspect people around you and you might realize that you are being groped when it is too late”
The second person I interviewed was a policeman who works at the subway. I sought to know what exactly their role in these subways is. He replied, “of late there has been an increase in the number of policemen on duty in the subways because of controlling the crowd and especially at rush hours. We have the duty to stop passengers who try to board trains which are already overcrowded. In extreme cases we normally arrest passengers who are adamant; who try to delay trains and hold doors open” he explained further, “basically our role in these subways is to protect passengers, to preserve order and to facilitate the smooth movement of trains. We are specifically instructed not to allow any passenger to board a train when the gong has sounded. We usually expect a lot of trouble, fights, wrangles and arrests”
I finally interviewed a gentle man who owns a shop near the subways. First, I asked him whether he sees policemen and women and whether they have rifles and dogs. He replied, “The presence of policemen around this place is regular, like last Thursday there was something going on around the subway. There were quite a number of police, Flack jacket, very large guns and a police dog” I then asked him what he thinks is their importance in these subways. He replied, “when I come across such groups of police men, I don’t really know whether is should feel less safe or more safe. There are at all times in uniform, very dark uniforms. This uniform cuts a very photogenic and strong silhouette. One tends s to think that it is impossible to look great in bullet proof vests and pants, but these guys generally do a very good job. I just do know how these subways would look with their absence”
Cudahy, Brian (2003): A century of subways: celebrating 100 years of New York’s underground railways. FordhamUniversity press.
Lorraine, B. D (2004): Subways; the tracks that built New York City, Clarkson potter, New York.