NYPD Targets Subway Sex Crimes As Force Shrinks

04/11/2011 01:33 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2011

There are roughly 600 reported incidents of subway riders being "groped, flashed, grinded or similarly assaulted" each year.

But NYPD brass and advocates say that's just a fraction of the misdemeanor sex crimes taking place on trains. In reality, the number of incidents annually is probably in the thousands, some say.

"Oftentimes when people are being harassed, they're scared, they're not thinking, 'Let me find a police officer,'" said Emily May, co-founder of the anti-harassment advocacy group Hollaback! "They're thinking, 'Let me get out of this situation.'"

Former NYPD Transit Bureau Chief James Hall told the News that the NYPD believes sex crimes on the subway are highly under-reported.

The NYPD has some undercover officers on the lookout for perverts, but the size of the subway force has shrunk due to budget cuts, just like the number of aboveground cops. Over the last three years, police have averaged 450 arrests for misdemeanor sex crimes, according to NYPD stats.

In November, a video of a woman berating a flasher made the rounds. "That's it!" she yells on camera. "Oh you're getting fucking arrested. I'm not leaving your side. My plans are done for tonight."

Earlier this month, the NYPD announced that reports of rape were on the rise. The department said the increase could be due to more women reporting the crime, rather than more rapes occurring.

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