What to do if you see a hate crime in the New York transit system

Whichever MTA service you rely on, your safety matters to us. Here’s what you can do if you feel you’ve been the victim of or a witness to a crime, including a suspected hate crime.

If you have been the victim of, or witness to, any crime, including a suspected hate crime or bias incident, you should immediately report it to law enforcement, including the New York Police Department and the MTA Police Department.

Note that your immigration status does not in any way prevent you from reporting a crime or receiving necessary services. 

What Is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a traditional offense that is motivated by bias. A person commits a hate crime when one of a specified set of crimes is committed targeting a victim because of a perception or belief about their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, or when such an act is committed as a result of that type of perception or belief. These crimes can target an individual, a group of individuals or public or private property.

See which crimes fall under the Hate Crimes statute.

Hate crimes can be perpetrated against an individual, a group, or against public or private property. For example, hanging a noose or painting a swastika could be deemed hate crimes.

If you are being subjected to a crime

To report any crime in progress, including a possible hate crime, tell an MTA employee or police officer or call 911 immediately. 

If there are any witnesses to the crime, give their contact details to the police. (If you saw the incident, tell the police you were a witness.) What witnesses saw and heard can be very helpful as police investigate what happened. 

If you see a crime that you suspect is a hate crime

Don’t try to handle it on your own. The situation could escalate.

Tips for Witnesses:

  • Observe what happens. If it is possible and only if it's not dangerous, take a photo if you can.
  • Pay attention to as many details as possible. Write them down as soon as you can.
  • Try to provide a description that enables the police to identify the perpetrators.
  • Listen to what was being said while the crime was being committed
  • Tell the police that you are a witness. What you saw or heard could be very important to the police investigation.

Detectives from the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force will conduct an investigation when they're notified of a possible hate crime. 

How to report bias-motivated threats, harassment, discrimination, or graffiti

To report a crime in progress, tell an MTA employee or police officer or call 911 immediately.

On New York City Subways and Buses

  • Call the Hate Crimes Task Force at 888-392-3644 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) 
  • Text "HATE" to 81336. You can include photos with your message.
  • In subway stations, you can also use a Help Point intercom.

On Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and the Staten Island Railway

  • Call the MTA Police Department at 1-212-878-1000 (24 hours a day)
  • Email/text tips@mtapd.org. You can include photos with your message.
A rendering shows a Long Island Rail Road-style sign with the word "Kindness" on it
A rendering shows a Grand Central-style sign with the word "Solidarity" on it

Tips to intervene, safely

Be very careful and only intervene if you think that it is safe. Every situation is different. Some things you may consider are: 

  • Look for someone who might assist (a police officer, MTA employee, store owner, etc.) and call 911. 
  • Ask the person who appears to be the victim if they are OK, and if there is anything you can do to help. If there is, help them out. 
  • Offer to escort the person to the police station or another safe location. 
  • Contact the police to report the incident. If you witness a crime and it is not safe to intervene, call 911 immediately. You do not have to give your name when you call 911. If you wish to remain anonymous or keep information confidential, tell the operator.