Mayor Eric Adams used a new TV interview to downplay the increase in violent subway crime — and blamed the news media for creating a false “perception” that the situation underground is out of control.
Adams took his dismissive tone about mayhem in the subways — where violent crime this year through August was up 39% compared to 2019 — during a talk with CNN’s Chris Wallace that was recorded just a day after the city’s ninth train-system homicide of the year occurred in Queens.
“We have an average of less than six crimes a day on a subway system with 3.5 million riders,” Adams told Wallace.
“But if you write your story based on a narrative, then you’re going to look at the worst of those six crimes and put it on the front pages of your paper every day.”
Hizzoner added: “So, I have to deal with those six crimes a day — felony crimes — and the perception of fear.”
The mayor’s continuing efforts to downplay crime have left both criminal justice experts and everyday straphangers dismayed.
“I don’t know where he’s coming from anymore,” said Dorothy Schulz, a professor emerita of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.
“I think he’s very preoccupied with this illegal immigrant thing and the tent city and I don’t know whether he thinks by saying this he makes people feel safer.”
Straphanger Sabryna Davis, who rides the subway to her job as a health aide in Ozone Park, Queens, said Adams was “coming at it the wrong way, saying there’s just six crimes a day and people shouldn’t worry.”
“That’s just a statistic,” she said. “That’s not taking into account the unreported crimes. That’s not taking into account the warning signs — the threats, the crazy looks in people’s eyes.
“The subway is full of ticking time bombs, and just because six go off today, it doesn’t mean 12 aren’t going off tomorrow.”
Even Wallace seemed surprised by Adam’s comments, and asked the mayor if he really meant the Big Apple’s crime problem was “more perception than reality.”
“No, it’s a combination of both,” Adams said, seeming to backtrack a bit.
“But mayor, the New York City crime statistics are that year to date, crime in the subways is up 41% over the same period last year, and serious crime — major felonies — are up even more than that,” Wallace interjected. “That’s not perception. That’s reality.”
The assertion forced Adams to concede that “yes, we have a crime problem that we’re addressing” — before again bashing the media.
“But part of that is the perception that every day, those six crimes are being highlighted over and over again,” he said.
The mayor’s comments, first reported Thursday by Mediaite, are part of an episode of the CNN show “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” that’s scheduled to be released Friday on HBO Max.
Schulz, who was the first female captain in the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Police Department, said that the current crime wave in the subway is different than crime in the past.
“What people are really frightened of is this randomness,” she said. “The accumulation of these incidents is that people are petrified. “People I know who rode the city for years, I’ve never heard so many people say they are frightened — and overwhelmingly women.”
Leo Pacheco, 24, of Lower East Side also ripped the mayor’s comments.
“It sounds pretty tone-deaf,” he told the Post at Jamaica station. “Clearly he’s not a subway rider, because I don’t know anyone who thinks the subways are safe. Is it just our perception? Hell no.”
Sahl Masih, 32, a bus driver from Williamsburg, said Adams is “in denial.”
“Ask anyone who rides the subway if it’s perception. Is what you’re seeing perception or reality? All these homeless people on the train — are they just perception?” he said. “When the mayor of New York City can’t own up to the reality of a problem that even a tourist can see, it makes you really wonder why you voted for the guy.”
Adams’ interview was conducted Tuesday, City Hall said, one day after the killing of Heriberto Quintana, 48, who fell in front of an oncoming subway train after getting punched in the face on a station platform in Queens.
Carlos Garcia, 50, was charged with manslaughter and assault in the incident, which followed an argument that allegedly erupted when Quintana accidentally bumped into Garcia and knocked his phone to the tracks.
Quintana’s death marked the ninth homicide in the subway system this year.
In his interview, Adams rehashed remarks he made Monday, when he blamed the number of guns in the Big Apple for the recent surge in subway slayings, even though they’ve only been used in a fraction of the deadly attacks.
Adams first invoked the “perception of fear” in the subways following the Jan. 15 killing of Michelle Go, who was allegedly pushed in front of an oncoming train in the Times Square station by a mentally ill homeless man.
“New Yorkers are safe on the subway system,” he said at the time.
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