Mayor Eric Adams keeps talking up metal detectors for the New York City subway. It’s a solution that he has to know won’t work.
“New Yorkers are going to feel safe knowing that when they swipe their MetroCards that we’re doing some type of check to make sure people are not carrying weapons on our system,” said Adams. “We’re looking at three devices. We haven’t narrowed in on just one yet. Once we know we’ll make that announcement.”
Adams first discussed the measure last week, explaining that New Yorkers wouldn’t have to deal with “traditional metal detectors that you see at airports” that require you to empty your pockets, for example. “It’s not going to get in the way of movement,” he said to PIX11 Morning News then. “It’s very easily mobile.”
According to Gothamist, Evolv Technology, a company based in Massachusetts, is in the running. “The company has developed an advanced detector capable of determining the density and shape alongside its metal composition, allowing their scanners to distinguish guns and bombs from some everyday objects like cellphones,” reports the outlet. “The detector then takes a photo of the person in question and tries to pinpoint where they’re carrying the metal object. Those images can then be used by a security officer to identify the carrier of a firearm.”
While there was a recent mass shooting in the subway, the vast majority of the subway violence involves fists and knives. And considering that the system is unable and has not been allowed to stop fare dodgers, what are its odds of stopping people from bringing weapons through those same turnstiles?
Deploying police officers to monitor each set of subway turnstiles would involve a massive manpower boost or a massive waste of manpower. Or both.
The New York City subway system is massive, with over 400 stops, and multiple exits and entrances, and multiple turnstile access points at some of them.
And, aside from everything else, this is a system which takes years to fix an escalator.
On my last visit to the city, I was impressed to see turnstiles which allow for seamless smartphone payments. It was a system that worked quickly and efficiently.
But subway violence doesn’t have a technological solution. It requires police manpower and, most importantly, a willingness to lock up the career offenders who are carrying out the violence.
Mayor Adams doesn’t control that last part so he can’t be blamed for the refusal of woke DAs like Alvin Bragg or Gov. Hochul to let the justice system and the law do its job. But metal detectors are a distraction that won’t fix anything. And I suspect he knows it.