The New York City mayor, Eric Adams, held a briefing with more than 100 employers and business leaders on Thursday to discuss public safety in the city and the steps his administration is taking to ensure workers returning to the office feel comfortable during their commutes.
The Partnership for New York City, a business group, convened the call after the mayor heard concerns from employers about safety after Daniel Enriquez, 48, was fatally shot in the chest on the Q train last weekend. He was an employee of Goldman Sachs.
Concern about public safety, especially in the city’s transit system, was the single largest issue of workers cited as an obstacle to returning to the office, according to a poll conducted in March by Morning Consult on behalf of the Partnership for New York City. The death of Mr. Enriquez was the most recent of high-profile violent incidents on the subway this year.
“What employers were saying is, ‘We’re hearing from our employees that this is the obstacle in terms of returning to work — returning to the subways,'” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the Partnership. “The mayor was emphasizing that he is totally committed to the sense of a safe city, in terms of reducing crime and improving the perception of personal security in the city.”
Data released this month by the Partnership showed that return to office has been slower than employers expected: 38 percent of Manhattan office workers were on site as of mid-April, but more than a third of employers had projected that daily attendance would exceed 50 percent by then.
The Q Train Shooting in New York City
On May 22, 2022, a gunman shot and killed a subway passenger in Lower Manhattan.
During the briefing this week with business leaders, the mayor shared his commitment to expanding the presence of police officers and mental-health workers throughout the city’s transit system and promised a more comprehensive approach to supporting the city’s homeless.
“We wanted to show them what we are doing so they can go back to their employees and say we are responding to this issue of crime,” Mr. Adams said Thursday, during a news conference announcing the city’s bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Some of his critics say a bigger police presence alone won’t be enough.
Despite research indicating that hybrid work is here to stay, Mr. Adams has made it his mission to get employees to return to the office.
He has argued that employees have a role to play in reviving the city’s economy, including by patronizing small businesses in the central business districts. And he and his administration have made a full-court press behind the scenes.
In early March, Mr. Adams hosted several business leaders at a vegan dinner at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence. Jeff T. Blau, the chief executive of Related Companies, the real estate developer, attended, as did James Gorman, the chief executive of Morgan Stanley; Jonathan Gray, the president of Blackstone; and Thasunda Brown Duckett, the chief executive of TIAA, according to Charles Phillips, the managing partner and co-founder of Recognize, a technology growth equity firm, who helped organize the dinner.
“We want people back into the office all over the city,” Mr. Phillips said. “It’s an issue if employees feel it’s not safe, and the CEOs need a script to be able to legitimately talk to the employees.”
Keechant Sewell, the New York City police commissioner, has also been meeting with business leaders to convey a similar message, according to The New York Post.