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These days, New York City has a reputation as one of the safer major cities in the United States. But that wasn't always the case. In the 1980s, the NYC area was very different.
Just ask retired NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert K. Boyce, who first joined the police force in 1983. Boyce, who is featured in the new Oxygen series "New York Homicide," premiering Saturday, January 1 at 9/8c on Oxygen, recently spoke with Oxygen digital correspondent Stephanie Gomulka about the city's safety levels over the years, a typical day at work, and how technology has changed crime-solving.
"It's a big job and you have to multitask," Boyce told Gomulka of working in the NYPD, adding that while "it's a much safer city now," there are all kinds of issues that go on in the massive city, including terrorism attacks (he's worked four in his career, not including 9/11), and homicides.
"A lot of these things are whodunnits ... there's no information at all ... [I think] the toughest work in the NYPD is solving a homicide, and getting that victim's family some measure of justice," he explained, adding that a variety of people contribute to getting answers in those kinds of cases.
"I always say it's not one person who solved the crime, the whole department solved," he said.
Of course, with decades of experience, Boyce has seen how the advancements in DNA and technology like cameras and plate readers have impacted the way detective work happens, calling it "a game changer." He says that many of these advancements could have put notorious New York criminals away sooner, like Joel Rifkin, a serial killer who targeted sex workers in New York City between 1989 and 1993.
"Mr. Rifkin would take victims off the streets in New York and would then kill them in Long Island, the county where he lived, and then deposit them somewhere ... because of that information we have now perhaps we could have sped up the time to save lives ... quite a few of the cases i've worked you're under the gun, the person is gonna kill again, you have to get them into custody as soon as you can," he said.
For more of Boyce's thoughts on a day in the life of a detective and the way technology has impacted police work, watch the video above. And make sure to check out "New York Homicide," premiering Saturday, January 1 at 9/8c on Oxygen.
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