For the NYPD, there’s nothing better than catching a career criminal and locking ‘em up. It’s even better when they catch the thief red-handed.

That’s what happened to Officer Michael Gersh, who was awarded the 49th Precinct’s “Cop of the Month” Award after foiling a robbery pattern within Morris Park. He was presented with the award at the 49th Precinct Community Council meeting held Tuesday, March 27 at Eastchester Gardens.

“It feels good,” said Officer Gersh, an 8-year veteran of the force.

At the evening gathering held inside the building’s basketball gym, Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson told a packed crowd how February had been a month when robberies spiked 127% within the precinct. To help mitigate the threat, Nicholson deployed his Burglary Team throughout the area. It was at 1 p.m. on February 2, Officer Michael Gersh answered the call of duty.

Gersh, working with his team of three officers and a sergeant, responded to a 911 call of a burglary in progress, known as a 10-31. Morris Park had been victimized by a serial burglar who stalked 10 homes in the neighborhood. Gersh and his team immediately hit the sirens. Less than a minute after the call, the Burglary Team made their way to the home on Pierce Avenue, where Gersh spotted Anthony Montenez, a known felon within the community, ransacking the home belonging to a Vietnam War veteran. The home contained several weapons. Montenez had been inside the weapons room.

“It was smart on his part not to pick up a weapon,” said Officer Gersh.

According to Inspector Nicholson, Montenez had a long rap sheet that earned him lifetime parole status.

After arresting Montenez, he was taken to the precinct, where he confessed to all the burglaries. At a speedy trial, Montenez pled guilty and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“And that’s because Officer Gersh cared enough to say, ‘this guy’s killing us, where we gonna get him,’” said Nicholson.

Officer Gersh is no stranger to recognition, having been awarded “Cop of the Month” several times at the 49th Precinct.

“Five or six times, I don’t really remember,” said Gersh, a smile on his face.

His most distinguished citation was an award he received from Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for stopping a cop impersonator running wild in three boroughs in 2006.

Gersh’s Burglary Team had been on aggressive patrol since robberies climbed in Morris Park.

Now, because of Gersh’s arrest, burglaries have dropped 32%.

To reach reporter David Cruz, call (718) 742-3383 or email at dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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