Emotional sendoff for 2 York City detectives who went after gangs, drug dealers, killers

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Two senior York City detectives instrumental in dismantling the city's Southside gang and arresting hundreds of drug dealers and their fair share of killers over the past quarter century received a heartfelt sendoff Friday that neither expected.

As Detectives First Class Andy Shaffer and Scott Nadzom stood in front of the York City Police Department, police and fire vehicles drove past to honor their efforts to make York City — and York County — a better place to live.

"I'm not sure that it's possible to overstate the contributions of these two officers in our efforts to ... reduce violence not just in York City, but in the southern part of the (federal) Middle District of Pennsylvania," Harrisburg-based U.S. Attorney David Freed told The York Dispatch.

"Of course Southside springs to mind, which was just a mammoth undertaking," Freed said. "But I don't want that to obscure the day-to-day efforts, hard work and intelligence-gathering these two have done over the years."

Freed said forging partnerships with local and state law-enforcement agencies makes his office more effective and efficient.

"Nowhere is that better represented than in the work of Andy and Scott," he said.

More:York DA, city cops, honored for teamwork, crippling Southside gang

The detectives also served on the York County Drug Task Force.

Dedicated: York County District Attorney Dave Sunday said their retirements are well earned, and he wished both men and their families the best in the future.

"Detectives Shaffer and Nadzom were dedicated public servants to not only York City, but also the county," Sunday said. "They spent many hours away from their families, working to protect and serve the entire York community."

"It was a total surprise," Shaffer said of the sendoff. "(York) Detective Tiffany Pitts told us to go outside — and when she tells you to do something, you listen."

So at noon Friday, the two detectives walked out the front doors of the police department to find a parade of first-responder vehicles slowly driving past 50 W. King St. for their benefit.

The procession included police vehicles from York City, West Manchester Township and West York, as well as York County Sheriff's Office vehicles, York City fire apparatus, a vehicle from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and even a vehicle from Penn State York, manned by retired city Lt. Gene Fells.

'Meant a lot': Shaffer acknowledged the sendoff went far beyond the normal well-wishes they'd expected.

"A lot of these officers Scott and I have known for 20-plus years," he said. "It's heartwarming to see some of the officers I worked with — especially the younger ones — with tears in their eyes. That meant a lot to me."

Shaffer said he and Nadzom tried to mentor younger officers, so it was emotional to see them showing that amount of affection and respect.

Detective First Class Scott Nadzom, facing, hugs coworker Zach Halpin during a retirement sendoff for Nadzom and Detective First Class Andy Shaffer at the York City Police Department Friday, August, 21, 2020. Nadzom worked for the department for nearly 26 years. Bill Kalina photo

"It was awesome," Nadzom said. "Without the York City Police Department, the officers in there and the support and guidance we got from them over the years, I wouldn't be who I am."

York City Police Officer Derek Hartman, the department's public information officer, said that while Shaffer and Nadzom were respected drug detectives, they also investigated other cases, including working with the U.S. Attorney's Office to take down the entire leadership of the Southside gang.

How York City crippled a criminal empire

Nadzom also investigated then-sitting York City Mayor Charlie Robertson for his alleged role decades earlier in the death of preacher's daughter Lillie Belle Allen during the city's 1969 race riots.

The Southside gang has not recovered, Hartman confirmed.

Terrible hours: Nadzom became a York City officer in May 1995, while Shaffer was hired by the department in January 1997, according to Hartman.

"They've been involved in some of the largest investigations and some of the most public, wide-spanning investigations in York County," he said, and noted that both worked long, terrible hours, sometimes on their own time, and often were called in on holidays and in the middle of the night.

Detective First Class Andy Shaffer talks with a well-wisher during a retirement sendoff for Shaffer and Detective First Class Scott Nadzom at the York City Police Department Friday, August, 21, 2020. Shaffer worked for the department for 24 years and Nadzom for nearly 26 years. Bill Kalina photo

Losing the detectives' leadership and institutional knowledge is a blow "that will honestly take a while to replace," Hartman said, and they are going to be missed both professionally and personally by many people in the department.

"They were the go-to people for answers to so many questions," he said. "They have a tremendous amount of respect from law-enforcement officers in York County and beyond."

Thousands of hours: Shaffer and Nadzom said they spent thousands of hours working together.

"I respect the hell out of him. He's one of the best investigators I ever worked with," Shaffer said of Nadzom, who said the feeling is mutual.

Detectives First Class Scott Nadzom, left, and Andy Shaffer react while being applauded during a drive-thru retirement sendoff at the York City Police Department Friday, August, 20, 2020. A parade or area department vehicles drove past the York City Police Department where the two have collectively worked for 50 years. Bill Kalina photo

Retiring city officers are allowed to buy their service weapons from the city, and on Friday the two detectives learned that their co-workers had paid for them to keep their 9 mm handguns.

Their fellow officers and detectives paid to have their badge numbers and "York City Police" stamped on the weapons as well, which Shaffer said makes those keepsakes extra special for both of them.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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