Homecoming: Dep Inspector Gallagher Returns to UES as New C.O. of 19th Pct.

Deputy Inspector William J. Gallagher, who has headed the Central Park precinct for nearly three years, is returning to his old stomping grounds in the 19th precinct on the Upper East Side as its new commanding officer, sources said.

| 27 Feb 2023 | 11:26

The incoming commanding officer of the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side of Manhattan won’t have far to go to get to his new post. And he’ll be pretty familiar with it once he gets there.

Deputy Inspector William J. “Bill” Gallagher, the outgoing commanding officer of the Central Park Pct. is moving across the park to take over the 19th, sources said, succeeding acting commanding officer, Captain Anthony Lavino.

It is a homecoming for Gallagher, who only moved across the park when he left the 19th following his promotion to Central Park precinct commander in 2020. He left the 19th as a captain and was promoted to deputy inspector in Dec. 2021.

The NYPD did not officially confirm the report, but sources said Gallagher was already at his new post on Feb. 24.

Lavino only moved down from the 23rd precinct in East Harlem to the 19th to serve as acting commander last August. He’s expected to remain in the new post as executive officer while awaiting his next posting.

Sources said the move was announced to both stationhouses on Feb. 23 although police HQ at One Police Plaza had yet to confirm the moves.

The Upper East Side precinct is generally one of the lowest crime areas in the city but it does attract a brand of thieves who want to target high net worth individuals. It is a big target for so-called “mail fishing” burglars, who steal checks from the US mailboxes, and erase the recepients name and replace it with their own, frequently altering the amount.

Last year, there were a rash of high end luxury car thefts from parking garages. Lavino was involved in the arrest of a juvenile who had slipped into parking garages and found cars with the keys inside. He would then steal the cars by driving them out of the garage. Although he did not even have a driver’s license at the time of his arrest, he had taken at least seven cars, including BMWs and at least one Ferrari. Several of the cars were found abandoned in the Newark, NJ, area.

And of course, the 19th Precinct was the scene of the arrest in December of Shanice Aviles for breaking into the rented upper east side townhouse of “Raging Bull” and “The Irishman” actor Robert De Niro.

More recently, a 19th Pct. officer on Feb. 22 collared a 33 year suspect after a taxi driver called 911 to report he had been assaulted by a passenger who grew irate when the 78 year old taxi driver asked his passenger to re-swipe his card to pay for a fare.

Central Park Pct. stretches over 840 acres taking in the entirety of the park and has also been relatively peaceful compared to other areas of the city. But it is not crime free. In May, 2021, Gallagher presided over a press conference to announce that a suspect, Andrew Thornton, had been arrested and charged with two counts of armed robbery in the park earlier that spring. And in January, it was the scene of an anti semetic attack by an apparently homeless man who shouted slurs and pushed a park patron to the ground.

The Central Park Rangers--the horseback riding police who in the Will Ferrell movie “Elf” were said to be “under investigation” for an incident at the Simon & Garfunkel concert in 1985--are fictional. The real Simon & Garfunkel concert was actually in 1981--not ‘85 as the movie said--and in real life was largely peaceful. But the 400,000 fans who showed up did lead the NYC Parks Dept. to tightly limit the number of people who can watch concerts afterwards, but not because of unruly behavior. Crowds are limited in order to preserve the Great Lawn of Central Park.