NYPD Commissioner to Ride the Rails in the Wee Hours

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Fare evasion, as rendered by an MTA 'Arts for Transit' sculpture

Riding the subway late at night? Keep your eyes peeled, because New York's top cop might be, too.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he'll be taking a series of late-night subway rides as part of a quality-of-life assessment he's conducting with George Kelling, one of the authors of the influential "broken windows" theory of crime fighting.

"George and I are going to be out riding the rails for most of the early morning hours just to get a first-hand look at what the city looks like from midnight to four in the morning," Bratton said Tuesday. "So I think we'll have a lot of surprised cops when they see George and I popping off the subways at 3:30 in the morning."

William Bratton, NYPD chief and late-night subway rider (Andrew Burton/Getty)

Bratton indicated last week he'd be paying close attention to transit. On Wednesday, an NYPD officer was shot in the leg while pursuing a suspected fare evader. A day later, Bratton told reporters that a focus on fare evasion helped reduce more serious violations when he ran the NYPD the first time around.

"When I was chief of police [in the 1990s], we began to focus on fare evasion," said Bratton. "And what did we find? One out of every seven people were wanted on a warrant. One out of every 21 were carrying weapons, from box cutters up to Uzi submachine guns. So the New York miracle, if you will, began with fare evasion enforcement on the subway 25 years ago."

Bratton says Kellling will be consulting with the NYPD on reducing crime in public spaces.