New York City is revising its single NYPD patrol plan for the subway system following an attack on an officer deployed as part of the initiative that just rolled out this week, police officials confirmed Wednesday.
Mayor Eric Adams had announced the rollout just a day ago, saying he conducted solo transit patrols himself during his days with the NYPD. Single patrols, which the Democrat said began Monday night, are deployed to stations on a need basis. Officials say the idea is that more cops patrolling the transit system will help lower crime.
The modified plan will still continue "the solo patrol concept by spreading officers out on posts," a spokesperson said, but the two officers will stay within each other's sight.
"This will increase visibility of police officers looking out for the riding public while at the same time looking out for each other," the NYPD statement said.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
"The incident involving the officer who was assaulted is a reminder that there are individuals who have no respect for the law or those who enforce it," it continued. "A police officer should be able to instruct someone not to smoke on a subway platform without that resulting in a serious altercation. This will not be tolerated which is why we have steadily increased uniformed presence in the transit system."
Adams said on Tuesday that he supported having the solo patrols "stay in eyesight of each other," insisting that it shows he's willing to adjust.
"Nothing is worse than a person so rigid they won't see how to build a better mousetrap," Adams said.
Detectives Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo said that he told the mayor "at this time in our history it’s very dangerous for cops to be in an altercation when you don’t know if help is at that next stop."
The transit officer was performing solo patrol at the Pennsylvania Avenue station in Brooklyn shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday when he saw 24-year-old Alex Eremin smoking a cigarette on the southbound No. 3 platform, according to the NYPD.
The cop told the smoker to put the cigarette out, at which point police say the smoker threw himself down the platform staircase. The officer went to help him and Eremin dragged the officer the rest of the way down the stairs, the officials said.
The two started to struggle and Eremin allegedly tried to grab the cop's gun, police said. The officer was able to apprehend the suspect, who is homeless and who was taken to a hospital for evaluation. The officials say he has a history of attacking NYPD officers. Details on those prior cases weren't immediately available.
The officer was taken to a hospital for evaluation but was expected to be OK, and is now recovering at home. Eremin faces charges including assault on a police officer, attempting robbery, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.
Renewed Push to Make Subways Safer
Subway crime is up 54% year over year and 39% in the last month, police statistics show -- and a number of high-profile accidents in recent weeks have added further fodder to questions over whether resources are adequate.
Adams said his administration has been looking into how best to utilize resources and the solo patrol concept appears to be the "smart" way to deploy them.
"We were not deploying our police. You see it at parades, you see you walk down a friendly parade, you see a parade, you see five officers on one side of the street on the corner, five at another side of the street. This is not how you deploy your manpower," the mayor at an unrelated Tuesday briefing when asked about the new subway plan.
"I promised this on the campaign trail, I'm living up to the promise of the chief of department, chief of patrol, the police commissioner," Adams added. "It was clear that passengers who stopped us, spoke with us, they said, 'We want to see that blue uniform. … We feel better, and we feel as though the police are present.'"
Police unions, though, had balked at the plan, saying deploying lone NYPD officers throughout the subway system would put cops at greater risk of violence. The Brooklyn incident Tuesday only served to intensify the tone of their message.
"The mayor knows the history of transit policing as well as we do," the Detectives' Endowment Association tweeted in part. "It's a matter of life and death."
A spokesperson for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said its president, Patrick Lynch, had spoken with Adams about the attack and that the mayor assured Lynch the plan would be modified so there were at least two NYPD cops in every patrol area.