The New York Times

November 5, 1999


NYC Cops Scrap Transit Card Plan

NEW YORK (AP) -- Police have canceled a week-old plan to arrest violent criminals by luring them onto subways with free transit cards.

Police union officials and advocates for subway riders had criticized the plan, saying that making arrests on crowded platforms was unnecessarily risky. Top city officials and civil libertarians also lambasted the idea, which was scrapped Thursday.

Norman Siegel of the New York Civil Liberties Union said that "apprehending fugitives with outstanding warrants is a legitimate government interest, but that method needs to be narrowed to meet the goal."

The plan, first reported in the Daily News, began Oct. 28. It involved sending free MetroCards adorned with a picture of actor Michael J. Fox to the homes of 100 suspects wanted in violent crimes.

The cards were coded for student fares, which set off a yellow light when swiped at subway turnstiles. Police officers, who routinely stop users of the student MetroCards who appear too old to be in school, were then to arrest anyone using a card with Fox's picture.

Officials say the operation didn't result in any arrests.

Police Commissioner Howard Safir said the plan differed from one first presented to him. He said he would "have to deal with" how lower level officials were able to implement the plan without notifying him or the city transit officials.