'This Is A Dangerous Time To Be A Police Officer:' NYPD Suspends Solo Patrols Amid Violent Protests

WCBS 880 Newsroom
May 30, 2020 - 9:09 pm
George Floyd Protest In New York

Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The NYPD has temporarily suspended all solo patrols in response to violent protests over the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In a Saturday morning memo to all officers, following a chaotic and violent night of protests in Brooklyn, the department said it is prohibiting officers from conducting solo patrols regardless of bureau, command or assignment.

During Friday night's protest, one demonstrator was arrested on attempted murder charges after police said she tossed a Molotov cocktail at a marked police van occupied by several officers. The device did not ignite and the officers were unharmed. 

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told WCBS 880 that one protester was armed with a firearm and numerous knives were recovered.

"I don't want to have any opportunity for something to happen where one of my cops is caught alone. So no solo patrols. We always have at least two cops so that there's someone to keep an eye on one another," Monahan said. "This is a dangerous time to be a police officer. Actions of someone in Minneapolis has put 800,000 law enforcement officers around this country in danger, so this is not a great time, but we will get through this like we do everything else."

The Police Benevolent Association said the directive must be adhered to under all circumstances.

"Once again, our mission is to make sure each of us goes home safely at end of tour," PBA President Patrick Lynch said.

SAFETY ALERT: Solo Patrols Temporarily Suspended

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More than 200 people were arrested during protests near the Barclays Center on Friday night and several police officers were injured.

Monahan said the violence was orchestrated by out-of-towners.

"This was a very organized attack on police officers that was committed by people not from these communities, not from New York. A lot of outside instigators who were there solely for one reason — to fight the police," Monahan said. "This is out of towners, people not part of the communities, people that are coming in to our neighborhoods, into our communities, and causing mayhem."

Many people in the crowd threw bottles at police. A mob set fire to a police van and battered several other police cruisers with clubs.

"There were literally thousands of bottles, bleach, batteries, rocks thrown at the police officers," Monahan said.

The chief said the NYPD welcomes protesters who want to express their views peacefully, but said arrests will be made when violence ensues.

"We want people to come out and voice their opinions, voice it against the police, there is absolutely no problem with that," Monahan said. "If people are going to march through the streets peacefully, not throwing items, not looking to set fires, not looking to break windows, we allow them to do it. Voice their concerns, voice anything you want, that is fine, but when you get violent, we will have to take action, we will make arrests and we look to target those that are causing the violence."

As demonstrators took to the streets for a third day of protests Saturday, Monahan said officers are out in force handling the situation throughout the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he is launching an independent review of the violent clashes between protesters and police officers.

The mayor said he was upset by videos of the confrontations “where protesters were handled very violently” by police, including video that shows an officer pushing a woman to the ground, and by reports that a state senator and member of the state Assembly were among the people sprayed with irritating chemicals by officers. 

“That’s unacceptable, and we need to understand exactly why that happened,” the mayor said.

But he also said a small number of protesters had come “with an agenda of violence and incitement, and they meant to harm police officers, and they did harm police officers.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had asked the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, to lead an inquiry and make a public report.

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