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Black officer picked for high Brooklyn post

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two brownstone Brooklyn lawmakers are crowing this week after Police Commissioner Ray Kelly named a person of color to a powerful borough command.

Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson, currently in charge of the school safety division, will be the new chief of the Brooklyn North Patrol, which covers 10 precincts from Williamsburg to Boerum Hill and East New York.

The promotion came days after Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) and Assemblyman-elect Hakeem Jeffries (D–Prospect Heights) joined a coalition of black leaders demanding Kelly appoint an African-American in the wake of last month’s fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man killed on his wedding day.

Nelson (inset) will become the only black commander of the eight borough patrols in the NYPD.

“Kelly heard the appeal from central Brooklyn elected officials, but his work is not done yet,” said James. “We need to continue to promote, recruit, and retain people of color at the department, particularly at the top level where decisions are made.”

An NYPD spokesman said politics did not play a role in Nelson’s promotion.

“He’s been [promoted] as a result of the exceptional job he did at school safety,” he said.

The post was vacant due to the retirement of Joseph Cunneen. Councilman Al Vann (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant); Rep. Ed Towns (D–Brooklyn Heights); state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Park Slope); and state Sen.-elect Eric Adams (D–Fort Greene) also called for a black to succeed Cunneen.

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