Solo police patrols didn’t work — but please keep trying, Mr. Mayor


Give Mayor Eric Adams credit for trying a new tactic to fight crime — and save the city money in the process — by rolling out single-officer patrols on the subway Tuesday. Give him even more credit for ending the experiment the very next day when it proved dangerous.

Adams knows crime is the city’s top priority, and he must be beyond frustrated with New York’s soft-on-crime laws, prosecutors and judges. So he resorted to solo patrols, hoping it would spare the city the cost of additional officers while extending police presence.

Alas, on the very first day of the program, a homeless man attacked a uniformed detective after being spotted smoking on a Brooklyn train platform. The man allegedly reached for the cop’s gun several times before being subdued. The outcome could’ve been horribly different.

Almost instantly, the NYPD then scrapped the program. Wise move.

In rolling out solo patrols, Adams noted that he’d done them himself decades ago as a young transit cop. Fine, Mr. Mayor, but that was then — this is now.

Today’s bad guys no longer fear tangling with police. Cops say Alex Eremin, the suspect in the Brooklyn attack, has a history of assaulting police officers. (Why Eremin wasn’t sitting in Rikers after assaults in February and May is the real scandal.) Police in the city now are often vilified and face a host of new laws tying their hands and empowering criminals and the mentally ill. They need at least one partner as back-up.

A general view of an NYPD Transit Officer as seen at the Union Square subway station in New York, NY on April 28, 2019.
While solo patrols around the subway have been done in the past, it’s no longer safe for officers to tackle hostile suspects on their own.
Christopher Sadowski

Police unions warned that solo subway patrols were dangerous. Seems they weren’t wrong.

Adams and the NYPD must keep trying. Transit crime, after all, is up 54% year-over-year. Yes, precinct cops have been showing up in subway stations as part of their patrol duties — a welcome change. But with police retirements soaring, Hizzoner needs to consider adding new Police Academy classes, even as he looks to keep a lid on city spending.

He and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell showed agility in trying a new tactic and then ditching it quickly based on real-life conditions. There are other things to try, of course, but without help from Albany, prosecutors and judges, he’s got a tough fight ahead.





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