Adams, NYPD Commissioner discussing better hazard training for subway cops

Hazard Training for Subway cops
Mayor Eric Adams honoring NYPD officers in City Hall Blue Room. Friday, May 27, 2022.
Screenshot by Ethan Stark-Miller

Mayor Eric Adams Friday said he and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell are discussing how to retrain transit cops to better patrol the subways amid an ongoing spate of violent crime across the system.

“The police commissioner and I are talking about retraining all of our offices on how do you patrol this subway system,” Adams, who patrolled the subways as a transit cop in the 1980s and 90s, said. 

“There’s a unique way to patrol the subway system, knowing when trains come into the station, the dangers of the third rail, the dangers of track movement. This is something that I learned as a transit officer. We want to re-incorporate that as we infuse the street patrols with the inspections in our subway system.”

Adams made the pronouncement at a ceremony to honor two NYPD officers Friday morning, who last week saved a man that fell on the subway tracks while a train was about to pull into the Grant Avenue station on the A line.

“Detective Henry Greco and Officer Jason Macaluso rushed to the scene when Mr. Suleiman Rifai fell to the track,” Adams said. They “used the flashlight to stop the train conductor, to get the train conductor’s attention to slow the train down as they assisted in removing and helping Mr. Suleiman from being on the track area. And saving his life in the process.”

The mayor’s statement about re-training transit cops didn’t specifically focus on crime, but rather how to train officers to be more aware of the hazards of the subway system and helping people avoid dangerous situations – like falling on the tracks when an oncoming train is pulling into the station. 

Adams’ spokesman Fabien Levy told PoliticsNY that this potential new training is not a disciplinary measure but rather a way to help officers better respond to some of the dangers in the system.

“I think we’re in a unique position,” Levy said. “We have a mayor who is a former transit cop and understands the subway systems very well. So, he’s trying to make sure that some things that he learned back in the day, folks are aware of. And then obviously use new tactics in an effort to make sure that officers are aware of what’s going on, they’re able to help people be more aware when they’re on the subway platforms. You know, obviously, everyone has a cell phone in their pocket today, not everyone’s paying attention all the time. You want to work with the community, make sure they’re aware of their surroundings and understand what’s happening.”

Levy didn’t give a specific timeline for implementation but said the conversations are ongoing and referred PoliticsNY to the NYPD press officers for more details. The NYPD didn’t respond to a request for comment by post time.

The mayor has placed better policing the subways at the center of his public safety agenda following two subway shootings five weeks apart, one where a man was shot last Sunday unprovoked on a Q Train and another where a gunman sprayed a barrage of bullets in a Brooklyn N Train – hitting 10 people and injuring a dozen more. 

Just earlier this week, right after the Sunday shooting, Adams announced that he’s resurrecting the so-called Train Patrol Force – a group of officers dedicated to patrolling the subways in the late evening and overnight hours.