“He was only humping me.” A female subway rider.
As you descend into the subway you feel the air rushing up as it’s pushed ahead of a speeding train. It’s almost like the exhale of living being.
And as you descend further into the tile caverns you hear its growl, steel wheels on steel tracks, maybe a voice-over too, a warning, “Thirty fourth street next, watch the closing doors.” But you need to watch out for more than the closing doors.
Every day, you and five million others descend to form huge crowds who travel together. You think you know all about those crowds beneath the street’s surface. But the bustling masses below are just another surface. Beneath that surface…is the world of predator and police.
If you’re on a New York City subway platform at rush hour you of course see masses of faces hurrying here, standing there, reading, texting, listening to music or podcasts. Most are facing the direction from which the train will arrive. But if you stay a while on a platform you’ll see the faces change as people get on trains or use the stairways. But you’ll also see that some of those people are not leaving even after trains come and go. And you might wonder why they seem less interested in the train coming than they are in the people around them. They often are there for a purpose other than transport and they are of two kinds: the people who would hunt you and the people who hunt them…the plainclothes Transit cops.
In the ’80s I worked the rush hour in Anti Crime or A/C as we called it. A lot has changed in the subways since then, but some things never change. Back then my partner and I would get accustomed to seeing the repeat faces. We’d know what the “game” was, on many of them, perv or pick. The pervs or, perverts, would be much more obvious than the picks, or pickpockets.
The former would be oblivious to their surroundings and act as if they had license for free range over the passing women who boarded trains coming and going every minute or so. The picks would be more careful, as would the bag openers, a subset of larcenists, trying to blend in as they searched for prey. The bag openers would specialize in looking for good bag “presentation”, especially an unprotected pocketbook hanging to the rear. But no matter their care all of these predators would be spotted by the trained eye of a good Transit cop.
An overview of the species, pervus transitorus:
The pervs walked the platform of busy home-bound or work-bound train traffic and looked at the train’s cars as the doors opened and closed. If they saw a women squeezed into a crowded car with just scant room behind her…that was opportunity and they’d jump aboard. If the car was relatively empty, they’d look at the next set of doors and so on. If they saw no opportunity, they’d wait for the next train and repeat the process.
It was easy to spot the pervs. Some would be fairly furtive but others would whisk along the platform checking the doors repeatedly. When they’d get behind a woman on the train they’d press against her or fondle her on the ride between stations. My partner and I would also board the train as near as we could but sometimes we’d have to settle for some distance. But when we’d see the woman’s apparent distress we’d approach her as quickly and as quietly as we could and ID ourselves as police.
I’d talk to her as my partner would watch the perv exit, he’d be keeping an eye on the perv but watching me too for a signal. But very often the woman would just want to go about her business, go home or go to work and not want to press charges. If this happened I’d signal my partner by shaking my head, the perv never even knew we were onto him. We’d have another shot at him. Maybe within the hour.
Often a perv would engage in “looping”, riding the train behind a woman for an express-stop length of time, maybe five minutes, then get off and ride or “loop” back on a lightly boarded train to the station he just left and start all over again. It was as if he were at some bizarre, fantasy attraction of his own, I’d call it, Mr Turd’s Wild Ride.
One perv told me the ladies liked what he did and would even back up against him in reciprocation. I told him if he continued to act on that assumption he could count on receiving his mail for many years at the cross bar hotel.
But one time when my partner asked a woman if she’d sign a complaint she said, “No, he was only humping me.” She seemed fine with the situation. But she was only encouraging the guy to continue his “sport” again and again. All we could do was play the guy the next time we spotted him and hope for a better response. But this woman might change her attitude when some perv leaves his ejaculate, and his DNA, on her slacks as evidence of his presence. I saw a woman so victimized when no officer was there to apprehend him. She was extremely angry. If a cop had arrested that perv I think she’d not only be very willing to prosecute, she’d have recommended a firing squad and she’d provide the coup de grace.
Once, I approached a woman while the perv was still waiting to exit the train door. She was a middle aged woman, he was a perhaps a late teen. An oedipal thing? I don’t know but she was about three times his age and she held onto a pole in the center aisle. When she told me she was on her way home from a chemo treatment and didn’t want to pursue anything, I told her, “You don’t need him doing that to you and you don’t need me bothering you either.” I wonder if he interpreted her groans as approval. I walked over to talk to him but the train lurched and I accidentally stepped on his new white sneakers. He said, “Only a cop would do that.” We chatted a bit and he left. I never saw him again.
The highest general crime tour was afternoon and evening so we’d find ourselves working the evening rush when we weren’t on stake out for robberies and such. We’d get to know the regulars at those rushes and most of the time they didn’t know us. Even if they did we’d still often be able to board a train fairly near them without their knowledge.
Sometimes the pervs we busted were unemployed or laborers, sometimes professionals. One regular perv was a well-dressed dude we called “Scarsdale” for the nice, tan-colored camel-hair overcoat he wore. By naming them we’d know who was being referred to when, “Scarsdale just got off the the north bound E” was whispered.
When we were on stand-by for a court appearance we’d sometimes play the morning rush before court. One day I was working the morning rush when I spotted Scarsdale. Prior to that I had only observed him on the pm rush. But this morning he was taking the loaded Manhattan bound train from Roosevelt Ave to Queens Plaza round trip, again and again. He worked both ends of the day’s rush hours. But doing this before his day at work meant he’d have had to get up and leave home early to have time for this “joy” ride. Such dedication. I wonder if he displayed a wry smile when he told his wife what a grind the day had been.
One day I was checking out a boat at a boat show on Long Island. I got off the craft to look at it from the ground, in front of the bow. When I looked up, there at the helm was Scarsdale, sans camel hair coat…with his wife right alongside. Small world, full of small people.
Another regular we’d spot was, The Discriminator. We’d spot him stalking the length of the Queen’s Plaza platform again and again, checking out the train’s car’s doors endlessly. Was he looking for a certain type of woman, someone young, someone older, someone in slacks or a dress? We’d watch him but he’d do this for so long we became concerned that others seeing us dogging him so long would “make” us. So we just waited for the right opportunity.
And one day we saw him board a train and stand between two teen boys. We got right on the train with him. He had a NY Times in his hand to use as a shield. When we did our question/follow routine I learned that he had placed his hand on the front of one of the boy’s pants rubbing his penis. We busted him.
Discriminator worked for a large and well known financial service company. He had two homes, one in CT the other in a really nice section of Queens. When we went to court the complaining witness, a fifteen-year-old boy, was accompanied by an escort who brought him from the group home where he was staying. He was already a troubled teen before this encounter.
There was a plea deal for Discriminator to be given probation. But when the Asst. DA told the judge we had observed him on many occasions stalking in the subway he ordered treatment as a condition of probation. Discriminator’s wife sat in the audience as he admitted his guilt to the judge quietly by the side of the bench. This unusual side-bar admission was done possibly to protect the victim from embarrassment or maybe to protect the the perv from the wrath of the people present, maybe both.
Public transport often puts us all in close proximity. The overwhelming majority of us travel without any criminal intent. And people do become crushed against each other, innocently. But if it can be shown that someone took advantage of that situation and there was intent to sexually abuse, there’s gonna be trouble.
There is much less crime overall today in NYC and its subways since my years on the Transit Police force. But in a five year period ending in 2013 there were 3000 misdemeanor subway sex crimes reported. But the amount of such crimes that go unreported would greatly dwarf that figure.
Anyone who pursues this line of activity should know that most jurors in NYC travel to court via subway and half or more of them could be women. If convicted he will have a sex-crime criminal record and will face perhaps a year in jail; repeat offenders can receive more than a year in prison on a sex-charge felony conviction. This might entail living among inmates whose wives and daughters travel to work and school on the subway.
In any case a sex abuse convict will also have to register as a sex offender. Being on such a list will not only be embarrassing, but will carry a stigma which is certain to ruin most apartment-rental and job options. It’s not the best hobby to practice these days. Maybe those with such propensities might consider instead some therapy once or twice a week as a pastime. Less exciting, sure, but better than family disgrace, prison degradation and social ostracism.
One day my partner and I saw a male on a train behind an Asian woman with his erect penis out and pressed against her buttocks. We busted him. We didn’t need her for the public lewdness charge but she was a cooperative complainant which made a solid case for the sex abuse charge as well. During processing he asked me if I thought this would hurt his chances of becoming a Transit cop as he was on the list waiting to be appointed. I told him, “Yes…I think it kinda would.”
Categories: Sex crimes