So long Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson, hello Capt. Lorenzo “Andy” Johnson, new commanding officer of the 49th Precinct.
After over two years fighting to improve the quality of life within the precinct, the highly respected Nicholson has been reassigned, much to the chagrin of neighbors sorry to see him go.
Nicholson passes the baton to Johnson, or Andy as he’s known by his friends.
Residents gave Nicholson a fond sendoff at the precinct community council meeting on June 25, as they welcomed their new precinct commander.
Nicholson, a 20-year-vet, heads to Bronx Borough Command, working directly under Chief Carlos Gomez.
Originally from the south Bronx, Johnson worked in several city precincts for the past 24 years, rising steadily within the ranks.
He was first assigned as a beat cop in Manhattan’s 25th Precinct. He served as a captain in narcotics, organized crime, and most recently running the Bronx’s gang unit.
His first order of business, he said, will be identifying the problems within the precinct, mainly the issue of crews that continue to run rampant in various parts of the Four-Nine, which covers Morris Park, Van Nest and Allerton.
He is no stranger to dismantling a gang, having spent the last seven years taking down gangs that have terrorized Bronx neighborhoods.
“I will continue the policies and the great work that Inspector Nicholson has started here,” Johnson told council members.
Though most of his time will be spent indoors, Nicholson promised to keep a sharp eye on his former precinct.
He also took a moment to thank the cops who stood by him and the local residents.
“For the rest of my life I will be indebted to you,” said Nicholson, slightly choking at his words.
Nicholson assured the audience they will “love this guy.”
“The only difference in change is you’re going from a guy with red hair to a guy with black hair,” said Nicholson, who later joked “you’re also going from a Yankees fan to a Mets fan”.
Nicholson has been a popular commander, reducing robberies, assaults and burglaries.
Joe Thompson, president of the council recounted how he reacted when Chief Gomez told him Nicholson will be gone.
“Do you hear that rolling sound?” said Thompson. “I just jumped out of a 21-story window.”
But Edith Blitzer, head of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, gave Nicholson a big thank you and a promise he will be remembered.
“Never forget us because we won’t forget you,” said Blitzer.
“Not only was he a great boss but more importantly we became good friends,” said Vic DiPierro, the precinct’s community affairs officer.
NYPD crime stats show that while grand theft auto and burglaries have dropped so far this year, murders are up, from one in 2011 to 5 this year.
His only regret, said Nicholson, was not finding those responsible for the recent murder of Eveylyn Shapiro in the Pelham Houses.
“That will haunt me forever,” said Nicholson.
Aside from crimefighting, he also strengthened community relations for neighbors skeptical of police.
“Nicholson allowed me to see the police differently,” said Van Nest resident Joann Terrelonge.
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383