New York Daily News

November 8, 2017, 8:28 PM

  

 

EXCLUSIVE

NYPD orders more transit cops to patrol subways alone, leaving some worried for their safety

BY THOMAS TRACY, DAN RIVOLI, GRAHAM RAYMAN

Chief Joseph Fox, head of the Transit Division, directed commanders of the 12 districts across the city to station more solo posts to increase coverage, sources told The News.  (TODD MAISEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

The NYPD has ordered more transit cops to go solo when patrolling the subways — a move transit workers and police union bosses slammed, the Daily News has learned.

Chief Joseph Fox, head of the Transit Division, told commanders of the 12 districts across the city to station more solo posts to increase coverage, sources told The News. The directive took effect Tuesday at midnight and affects day and evening tours. Transit cops on the midnight tour will continue to patrol in pairs.

Following the murders of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in 2014, and after the July killing of Officer Miosotis Familia, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his successor, James O’Neill, ordered cops to patrol in pairs for safety. The directive, apparently a departure from that approach, applies to uniformed transit cops.

Subway crime statistics may be driving the change. While major crime in the city is down 5.5% overall through Sunday, it is down just 0.6% on subways and buses.

Two transit districts — the 23rd in eastern Queens and the 30th in central Brooklyn — show increases of 41.7%. Three other districts show lesser increases.

MTA conductor Tramell Thompson, a union organizer, said the threat of danger to officers on solo patrol will increase the time they take to respond to calls involving homeless or intoxicated people.

“I think police officers will be even less inclined to deal with passengers like that,” he said, characterizing the calls as “low priority.”

The heads of two police unions also weren’t thrilled.

NYPD cop stands alone in the 96th St. station.  (BLOOMBERG/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES)

“There has never been a time when it was more urgent for police officers to patrol in pairs — particularly in the subway, where it is frequently impossible to do a warrant check because of lack of cell service underground,” said Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, called it “business as usual.”

“Officer safety has never been a priority,” he said. “The mayor just got reelected and the commissioner sits idly by. How quickly we forget.”

Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, a police spokesman, said Fox reminded commanders they have the authority to create one-person posts.

“Chief Fox advised transit commanders that they should assign post coverage as they deem appropriate, based on their assessment of the needs and conditions of the specific posts,” he said.

A high-ranking police source denied it was a change in policy.

“Our district commanding officers deploy based on conditions, and in some cases we send officers out in pairs, in some cases in teams of one sergeant and eight cops and in some cases, solo,” he said.


A pair of NYPD officers patrols the W. 4th St. subway station.  (SHAWN INGLIMA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Thompson, who organizes workers with his group Progressive Action, said staff are forced to deal with rough characters on their own.

A transit worker was suspended after video surfaced of him dragging, kicking and booting a snoozing rider from a G train at its last stop at Church Ave. in Kensington, Brooklyn, on Saturday night, he said.

Thompson said cops should be at every terminal to deal with such incidents.

“The MTA turns a blind eye to the issues, when they know the homeless population is high in the subway,” he said.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano wants union officials to meet with the transit bureau’s district commanders.

Riders also are not impressed.

“That’s a ridiculous idea because of safety concerns,” said Vanessa Henry of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. “Having two people, they can more easily deescalate the situation.” 

WITH ANDY MAI