The NYPD says an officer on solo patrol Tuesday night on a platform at the Pennsylvania Avenue station in Brooklyn asked Alex Eremin, who is 24 and homeless, to put out his cigarette. Eremin refused. Police say he then threw himself down a staircase. When the officer went to help him, a struggle ensued.
Authorities say Eremin tried to throw the officer down the rest of the stairs and made attempts to grab his weapon. Somehow the officer was able to take Eremin into custody. He faces multiple charges, including assaulting a police officer.
The incident puts the future of solo patrols in question.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Police Benevolent Association said: "PBA President Pat Lynch and Mayor Eric Adams have spoken regarding this evening’s assault on a transit police officer performing solo patrol. The mayor indicated that the deployment plan will be modified so that there are two police officers on every train patrol."
However, the NYPD said in its own statement: "We are continuing with the solo patrol concept by spreading officers out on posts with the caveat that they be within sight of one another. This will increase visibility if police officers looking out for the riding public while at the same time looking out for each other."
Transit crime is up more than 54 percent this year compared to last, according to the latest New York City police statistics.
The mayor has said that convincing people to come back to the city post-pandemic requires that they feel safe in the transit system.