The NYPD is already retreating from its plan to conduct solo patrols in the city’s mass transit system — after a solitary cop was assaulted in a Brooklyn subway system by a man who repeatedly tried to grab his service weapon, police officials said Tuesday night.
Mayor Adams announced his solo patrol plan earlier Tuesday, over the objections from the city’s largest police union. But by Tuesday night, after a conversation with Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, he agreed to put two officers on every train patrol, a PBA spokesman said.
Adams spokesman Fabien Levy said solo patrols weren’t being abandoned, just modified.
“What’s going to happen is that they’re going to be in eyesight of each other,” Levy said.
The change came after a 10-year NYPD veteran was assaulted at the Pennsylvania Ave. No. 3 station in East New York just after 6:45 p.m.
“PBA President Pat Lynch and Mayor Adams have spoken regarding this evening’s assault on a Transit police officer performing solo patrol,” the PBA said in a statement. “The mayor indicated that the deployment plan will be modified so that there are two police officers on every train patrol.”
The officer was doing a solo patrol and noticed Alex Eremin, 24, smoking a cigarette on the southbound platform, a police spokesman said. The cop told the man to put out the cigarette, and he refused, then threw himself down the station stairs.
When the officer approached him to offer aid, the man grabbed the cop and pulled him down the rest of the staircase, police said. They struggled, and the man made several attempts to grab the officer’s gun before the cop subdued him, on his own, an NYPD spokesman said.
The suspect, who is homeless and has a history of assaulting NYPD officers, was taken to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation.
He’s charged with attempted robbery, assault on a police officer and other offenses.
The officer went to Methodist Hospital with a wrist and knee injury, police said.
“What we are asking of the officers is that they spread out to increase visibility but maintain eye contact that they can look out for the passengers as well as looking out for each other,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information John Miller said Tuesday.
“Tonight’s incident is another reminder that there are a small number of people who demonstrate they have no respect for the law. A police officer should be able to instruct someone to put out a cigarette in the transit system without being confronted with force and having to make an arrest.”
Adams and the NYPD devised the solo patrol plan, which started Monday night as a way for officers to cover more ground in the city’s transit system. Only certain train stations will be patrolled by lone cops. None will take place during the overnight hours, Adams said.
“For many years we had a version of what was called single patrol. I did it as a police officer,” Adams, a former transit cop, said at a press conference Tuesday. “I wouldn’t have anyone do a job that I wouldn’t do.”
With Tim Balk