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Cops, transit officials in power struggle

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Cops, transit officials in power struggle

BY ALISON GENDAR and LEO STANDORA

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

May 16th 2008

 

[float=right]amd_feil.jpg

Smith for News

Steven Feil, NYC Transit senior VP of subways

[/float]Cops and transit officials are locked in a real power struggle over turning off electricity to subway tracks in an emergency, the Daily News has learned.

 

The first test of a controversial new policy allowed a serial mugger to escape onto the tracks at a Manhattan station on Thursday morning even though police had him boxed in, sources said.

 

In the past, transit officials quickly cooperated when asked to turn off the juice. But a May 7 transit memo obtained by The News says outside agencies now must get permission from "the senior vice president of subways or the president of the NYC Transit System" for a shutoff.

 

Police sources believe the new policy is part of the transit agency's effort to improve on-time performance in the subways.

 

But they fear the move could hamper efforts to catch criminals - or even terrorists.

 

"This time it was a mugger," said an angry police source. "Next time, who knows? It looks like they're putting safety on the line so they can say their trains run on time."

 

The directive was issued by Steven Feil, NYC Transit senior vice president of subways.

 

In what cops saw as another zap, Feil also wrote that the new policy "in no way affects the absolute authority" of transit rail control center personnel to do what they want with the juice.

 

Police sources said that after cops were rebuffed in their initial shutoff request Thursday and told about the new policy, NYPD brass reached out to transit President Howard Roberts, but he refused to order power cut so cops could catch their man.

 

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne declined to comment.

 

Roberts couldn't be reached for comment.

 

The Feil directive came to light Thursday after cops closed in on the robber, who is suspected in purse snatchings Sunday at the L train station at First Ave., Tuesday on the No. 1 platform at Christopher St. and Wednesday at the L train station at Third Ave.

 

In all three cases, the man grabbed a pocketbook, leaped onto the tracks and disappeared into a tunnel.

 

But Thursday, at the Bleecker St. station on the No. 6 line, cops were waiting. More than 50 officers had been deployed at stations in the suspect's target area.

 

At 7:40 a.m., the mugger grabbed a 27-year-old woman's purse - dragging her for several feet before wresting the bag from her arm - and then raced into the tunnel.

 

A lieutenant posted on the street about 300 feet north of the station heard a ruckus below through a grate, and suspecting the robber was right beneath him, made the initial request to turn off power to the tracks. In the past, sources said, that was all it took.

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Sir, we have cops on the tracks down there..

 

Send it through!

 

Nothing stops the Money Train!

 

Ah S**t! Patterson didn't clear the tracks!

 

Looks like the (MTA) is turning into Donald Patterson....:eek:

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Why not put a few MTA police officers with the nypd officers so the decision can be put through immediately upon request?

 

- Andy

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Why not put a few MTA police officers with the nypd officers so the decision can be put through immediately upon request?

 

- Andy

 

NYPD patrol the subways system. They are called the transit bureau. MTA police is totally something else. The patrol lirr and metro-north. The NYPD transit police can get in contact with with the rail control center.

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NYPD patrol the subways system. They are called the transit bureau. MTA police is totally something else. The patrol lirr and metro-north. The NYPD transit police can get in contact with with the rail control center.

 

Ahh, ok.

 

- Andy

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Whats funny about the story is that the cops were on the train and saw the crook hiding in the tunnel.

 

Sad thing the crook is getting away though.

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Whats funny about the story is that the cops were on the train and saw the crook hiding in the tunnel.

 

Sad thing the crook is getting away though.

 

I am going to assume that if one is desperate enough to grab a purse etc in plain view of a police officer then go into a completely dangerous and potentially lethal area to evade them, something is really wrong in their life.

 

- Andy

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Well this now makes the tunnels a perfect escape route for all subway criminals. So does this now mean that it will take longer to shut off power in the event of a 12-9 or other such events or is this the MTA's way of showing its power against the city? I wonder what the police will do now in the event of a crime when they need power shut off, start arresting T/Os and other MTA employees for obstruction of justice or being an accessory after the fact? That would get the MTA's attention.

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