Commander leaves Mott Haven precinct

Deputy Inspector Elias Nikas has been replaced as commanding officer of the 40th precinct in Mott Haven.

The change comes a day after widespread reports that a Bronx grand jury had begun voting indictments in the ticket fixing scandal that has implicated officers and their union delegates, who allegedly made traffic tickets go away for favored people.

The investigation began in the 40th Precinct in December 2008 when police began looking into the relationship of an officer in the precinct to a local drug gang. Wiretaps caught the officer talking about fixing tickets, and the police and Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson launched a wide-reaching probe.

The NYPD tabbed Deputy Inspector Christopher J. McCormack, A 38-year-old Bronx native, as the precinct’s new leader on Tuesday, Sept. 27. McCormack had been serving at the 20th precinct in Chelsea.

Nikas referred questions to the Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, whose office did not respond to a telephone call and email. The New York Post reported that Nikas had asked to be transferred to be able to spend more time with his family.

As recently as two weeks ago, at the monthly Police Community Council meeting, Nikas spoke about how excited he was about the upcoming school year.

Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, the union that represents NYPD brass from the rank of captain on up said there was no link between the unfolding scandal and Nikas’s departure. He said precinct commanders often work 100 hours a week and Nikas left for personal reasons.

According to press reports, as many as two dozen officers and union officials are likely to be indicted for fixing tickets and hundreds more will be disciplined by the Police Department.

“It’s unfortunate the Bronx D.A. has taken two and a half years with this investigation,” Richter said. “I think it minimizes the incredible commitment that being a precinct commander takes. It takes an incredible toll not only on him but on his family.”

The new commander has worked stints in three other Bronx precincts, including one for a special operations unit in Soundview. The day after receiving word he would be taking the helm in the 40th Precinct, he addressed the community board’s monthly meeting. Addressing the recent increase in stabbings and shootings, he acknowledged, “There are some concerns here,” and added “It’s not about locking people up, it’s about stopping crime.”

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