NYPD Commissioner Shea on Election Day preparations: 'We're in good shape'

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — With Election Day just four days away, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the department is in good shape for whatever situation may arise.

The NYPD has been preparing to respond to any potential threats that can occur on Election Day and are focused on keeping voters safe as they head to the polls.

"We've been looking ahead to this date for quite some time," Shea told WCBS 880's Wayne Cabot. "It's a combination of equipment training, certainly refining some of our mobilization levels and how we move resources around. We think we're in good shape, we're ready for what Tuesday and before brings and we'll get New Yorkers through it as safely as possible."

Shea said currently there are no specific threats against the city and tells Cabot that the department is in constant contact with other major cities sharing intelligence.

During the interview Friday morning, Shea also addressed crimes in the subway system. Burglaries and robberies aboard trains have increased during the year. A recent New York Times report found the number of reported homicides and rapes in the subway are are also up.

With ridership down about dramatically amid the pandemic, Shea said crime in the transit has also seen a significant drop this year, but added that they have seen small increases in some categories without elaborating.

"You're talking about very small numbers. Each one is important to us, but we'll move resources around as we always do, continue to make sure that people that ride the system have full confidence in it," Shea said. "We'll make sure that all New Yorkers are safe riding the subway."

MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye this week said the NYPD needs to have a "more effective and significant presence in the subways" to reduce crimes and called a decline in arrests and summonses "unacceptable."

Addressing the criticism, Shea said, "Everyone wants people safe in the subway whether it's the MTA or whether it's the NYPD. That's exactly what we want. I would say though that as you know, last year we were having conversations about people entering the system without paying. Should they be arrested? Should they be summonsed? All of these things are related. So as we've seen large drops even before COVID in the maintenance of the gate, I will call it, and that brings the conversation around to the prosecutors as well. How do you keep the system safe? How do you keep people that are causing crimes in the system out? And we're going to continue to work with all of our partners to make sure that we get to where we want to be."

The commissioner also gave us an update on his so-called "Listening Tour," which he launched earlier this month.

Shea has been meeting with the public  to hear concerns directly from city residents in each of the the five boroughs so that they can have a say in how the police department operates moving forward.

Shea said so far he's received questions about a variety of topics including training, diversity, community relations, quality of life and more.

"This is New York City I'm hearing everything. Everyone has an opinion and that's the great thing... we're hearing everything and that's the most important thing, giving people a voice, hearing them," Shea said. "Now we have to turn it into action in terms of what can we learn? This is just phase one. I would just point out that we're going to be hearing from crime victims, employees of the NYPD, clergy, we're gonna be hearing from business owners, we're gonna be hearing from Legal Aid and Bronx Defenders and prosecutors and everyone in between. What do you think about New York City? How would you like New York City to be policed? What recommendations would you make."

The community hearings are in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order to reform police departments across the state and Shea said the department will release a formal report by April 1.