Tasers for Transit Workers?


hoodies for some, tasers for others

A New York legislator wants to arm transit workers with Tasers. The New York Daily News reports: 

[New York State Senator Eric] Adams, a retired NYPD captain, introduced a bill last year to allow Amtrak and commuter railroad workers and subway train crews to carry Tasers. It was buried in the state Senate's Codes Committee. But now, spurred by the rise in attacks on bus and subway workers, the Brooklyn Democrat is amending the bill to include bus drivers, believing it may fare better in a different Senate committee, such as Transportation.

The troubling statistics that led Senator Adams to renew his effort? 94 bus drivers and subway workers were physically assaulted in New York City last year, up from 72 in 2010. 

But the Transit Workers Union – Local 100, which is backing Adams' measure, counts 38,000 workers in New York City, hardly an assault epidemic. Additionally, bus drivers and other transit workers are already protected by the law; assault of a transit worker is a felony that can lead to a prison sentence of up to 7 years. Transit workers can also take paid time off generously after assaults, no matter how minor. The New York Times reported a few years ago:

Of all the assaults that prompted a bus operator to take paid leave in 2009, a third of them, 51 in total, "involved a spat upon," according to statistics the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released on Monday.

No weapon was involved in these episodes. "Strictly spitting," said Charles Seaton, a New York City Transit spokesman.

And the encounters, while distressing, appeared to take a surprisingly severe toll: the 51 drivers who went on paid leave after a spitting incident took, on average, 64 days off work — the equivalent of three months with pay. One driver, who was not identified by the authority, spent 191 days on paid leave.

No mention by Senator Adams, either, of how much it might cost to train bus drivers and subway workers on the appropriate use of a Taser, a weapon that can be deadly when misused.

As a former NYPD Captain, Eric Adams is no stranger to the misuse of force by authorities. In fact, he is a vocal critic of the NYPD's aggressive stop and frisk policies, even drawing a direct connection between the NYPD tactics and the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, saying:

The stop-and-frisk policy gave birth to not only police officers believing that a person of color is automatically a criminal; now it has grown into the civilian patrol units.

Senator Adams did not have to look as far as Florida to find how deadly policing based on profiling can get. In the Bronx, nineteen year old Ramarley Graham was pursued into his grandmother's house and shot to death by two plainclothes NYPD officers. They had suspected him of a drug transaction on the street that afternoon and chased after him into his home, shooting him in the back. They claim their lives felt threatened by the nineteen year old, much as George Zimmerman does. No drugs were found on Ramarley's person.

Does Senator Adams believe transit workers will be less likely to engage in profiling and less likely to use deadly force than police officers, whose entire work, at least in theory, revolves around not profiling and avoiding the use of deadly force? Or is he just pandering to the delicate and precious public workers ahead of state primaries in June?

NEXT: Uncle Sam Wants You So Badly That the Feeling May No Longer Be Reciprocal

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  1. Idea: let’s deputize and arm everyone and anyone who draws a government paycheck. I don’t see what could possibly go wrong.

    1. Well, it would help cement the notion that government workers are a treated as a superior class, with elevated privileges under law. And that will fuel the resentment necessary to fuel some substantial pushback against the state and its minor nobility.

    2. Let’s arm everyone who pays for government services instead.

  2. let transit workers eat tasers i say!…and the crap that gets beat outta em!

  3. I vote: “pander.” I note the sudden appearance of radio ads in the Phila. area touting how transit policemen protect daddy from criminals and terrorists in his daily commute to work. The current contract negotiations have absolutely nothing to do with this p.r. campaign, do they?

  4. Catch the spirit. Catch the spit.

  5. Is there a defense to tasers? Like an overcoat of static discharge?

      1. I meant a defense-defense, not a preemptive attack defense.

        1. Capes. More seriously, a piece of plastic of sufficient density should work fine. Something that doesn’t tear well. I’ve heard of tasers failing to penetrate winter coats. Ooh. You could just wear the Marty McFly vest. Would work perfect.

          1. Even better would be something that would reflect the flow of electrons to their source.

    1. the tesla-chain-mail suits, with a sturdy connection to electrolyte-wetted shoe soles?

    2. not spitting on your bus driver works.

  6. Now, I have no problem with transit workers being allowed to have tasers, or even firearms while on duty. People should have the means to defend themselves at work.

    The problem is, what kind of authority are they also being granted to use those weapons beyond simply defending their person? I definitely don’t want transit workers to have the same authority for using tasers as a police officer. Hell, I don’t like how much authority LEO’s have in using tasers these days.

    This is New York, of course. Simply recognizing that citizens have a right to defend themselves and access to the means to do so is probably beyond them.

    1. I forgot another issue: immunity. The state shouldn’t grant transit workers any immunity in the use of their weapons beyond what an average citizen would receive, lest bus drivers think they’re protected to use deadly, or even “less lethal” force against someone who simply spits on them.

      1. This is what I was thinking. Tasers are fine without the qualified immunity. You do have a right to defend yourself either with deadly force or less than deadly force regardless of your job.

    2. Me too.

  7. No mention by Senator Adams, either, of how much it might cost to train bus drivers and subway workers on the appropriate use of a Taser, a weapon that can be deadly when misused.

    Oh come on, how much could it cost to teach them to yell “STOP RESISTING!”?

    1. you ever tried teaching an ESOL class?

  8. The only people I can possibly understand thinking that Transit workers should have tasers are those who have never met one. All else is pandering, or madness, or a stupidity that should be purged from the body politic.

    1. Should be given tasers? No.
      Every day is bring your taser/slugger/knuckles/glock to work day? Why not.
      Surly transit workers are awesome.

    2. Never met a taser or never met a transit worker?

  9. No mention by Senator Adams, either, of how much it might cost to train bus drivers and subway workers on the appropriate use of a Taser

    What training? Just use it on anyone who doesn’t the proper amount of “respect”, right?

  10. I don’t understand, can’t the transit workers just call the police?

    1. No, that’s only why ‘civilians’ don’t need to be armed.

  11. The “7yrs for assaulting a transit worker” thing popped up in the subways about 2 years ago… which I think was a new law at the time. Since then, they’ve added some ads reminding riders of subway & metro north trains that MTA employees present an extra-special punative risk if you should choose to fuck with them.

    Its possible that bus drivers have been getting assaulted; I don’t ride the bus, really.

    But its a stretch of the imagination that Subway workers are threatened with violence. a) station agents are locked behind bulletproof glass which they never leave, and b) train conductors remain locked in their control booths. There haven’t been ‘conductors’/MTA personnel riding in the actual subway cars for over a decade. Even the station announcements are now automated-robot-voices. Where the hell are they going to get assaulted? Metro North train workers? Maybe. Drunk commuters are a hassle. But, given my lifetime exposed to the bottomless evil scumthuggery and turpitude of the MTA… I can only assume this ‘assault’ complaint and subsequent laws/regulations are merely the MTA trying to arm-twist themselves more benefits in the context of reduced need for actual humans doing these jobs…


  12. (contd)

    I mean, why is it not surprising that the first link I get when googling “MTA assaults” is not any news regarding battered bus drivers… but a ‘statement of solidarity’ by the Teachers Union?

    One of the more interesting details is the fact that the complaint of assaults is directly linked to ‘reduction of service’ = i.e. “if only we worked more (overtime) hours, riders would be much less likely to abuse us”

    The main thing the two largest metropolitan public-sector workers unions have in common? Both use the excuse of babysitting a mammoth rotting infrastructure to suck billions of dollars out of taxpayers pockets while providing absolutely abysmal service in return. Fuck, they don’t even babysit the infrastructure well. But they *are* masters at the money-sucking game.

    I note that the second link that came up was a case of an MTA worker assaulting a passenger.

    1. I note that the second link that came up was a case of an MTA worker assaulting a passenger.

      Which is why they need the tasers. Jeez GILMORE, get with the program.

    2. ‘statement of solidarity’ by the Teachers Union

      Oh my f***ing God is there anything nasty they are NOT “in solidarity” with?

  13. I’d get spat on in exchange for 2 months paid vacation any day.

  14. I don’t see why Federal Bus Marshals aren’t considered a strong deterrent.

  15. Workers already have the legitimate right to arm themselves, of course subject to agreement with their employers.

  16. The Graham/Zimmerman contrast hardly seems a fair comparison. The officers in the Graham shooting had their suspect cornered in a small bathroom where they yelled at him “show me your hands” then shot him in the back. All the talk in the Zimmerman case is about a “duty to retreat”, which would be difficult if Zimmerman was on the bottom of an MMA-style full mount. The police in the Graham case had their man cornered and easy access to cover… but police have no duty to retreat. In fact it seems they have a duty to advance aggressively in all cases. So rather than risk being confronted with a weapon they shot their suspect in the back at close range.

    1. Oh, and quoting the article did not include an invalid word containing over 50 characters, regardless of what the squirrels might think.

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