By Rich Bockmann
The best cops use quick thinking and resourcefulness when they are called upon with a split-second’s notice to protect their communities, and that’s just how three officers in the 111th Precinct reacted when they got the word about a violent crime in progress.
At last week’s precinct community council meeting, Officers Evan Ostrofsky, Patrick Hughes, and John Biscarri were honored as Cops of the Month for February for acting quickly and stopping a suspect in the midst of a crime spree.
According to Lt. Dan Heffernan, on Feb. 18, just before 8 p.m., a husband and wife pulled up to the corner of 209th ï»¿Street and Northern Boulevard in their 2011 Nissan Maxima. The woman waited in the car as her husband ran into a nearby convenience store.
Lurking outside was 41-year old Rolf Rehbein, Heffernan said. ï»¿Though his legal residence is in Hillsdale, N.Y., Rehbein grew up in Flushing, where he was believed to be living with a friend.
Rehbein opened the car’s door and sat in the driver’s seat, brandishing a knife, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney’s office. The terrified wife jumped out and immediately dialed 911 as the man hijacked the car and fled north on 210th Street, Heffernan said.
The 911 operator was relaying the details of the incident — including a description of the car — to the police dispatcher in real time, and the officers figured their suspect would be heading for the nearest highway to make his escape. They headed toward the Clearview Expressway and quickly spotted the Nissan.
“It was alert thinking on their part,” said Hefferman.
Rehbein panicked when he saw the police car’s flashing lights behind him and hit the gas, sending him careening up onto a lawn along the expressway’s service road, Heffernan saidï»¿. He gunned the gas to try to make an escape, which only caused him to dig himself in deeper.
Rehbein then took off on foot and was quickly chased down and arrested — even as the 911 operator was still on the phone with the victims taking down their information, according to Heffernan.ï»¿
When members of the 109th Precinct’s detective squad heard the description over the radio, they contacted the 111th to let them know that Rehbein was suspected in four similar robberies that had occurred earlier in the evening and the day before, all of which were at knife-point, Heffernan said.ï»¿
The Queens DA’s office has charged Rehbein with several offenses, including robbery, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.
Ostrofsky and Biscarri were also named Cop of the Month for January for a similar incident in which they chased down on a robbery suspect using their in-vehicle Sprint dispatching system as their radios were tied up.
Biscarri was recently promoted to sergeant after six years on the force. He is currently waiting to receive his new command.
“If he keeps up the good work, he’ll be in the heavy-crime unit,” said Hefferman.
The 111th Precinct’s next community council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 3 at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church on 202nd Street.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.