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Unsung Heroes Hispanic Heritage Month

Who Is Edward Caban, the NYPD's First Latino Commissioner?

"To lead such a distinguished group of people is the honor and privilege of a lifetime," NYPD Commissioner Caban said at his appointment.

By Elisabeth Ford
NYPD officer Tania Kinsella and First Deputy Commissioner Edward A. Caban hold hands

In July of this year, as he stood in front of New York City's 40th Precinct while a crowd gathered chanted “Eddie, Eddie,” Edward Caban became the 46th NYPD commissioner — and the first-ever Latino to hold that ranking in the department’s 178-year history.

Mayor Eric Adams appointed Caban, 55 at the time, at the Bronx station where the new commissioner began his career in the police force.

“We knew we had to appoint the right person, and I saw in Eddie, long ago, the possibilities," Adams said as the Bronx native was sworn in. "I knew that there was something special about Edward Caban."

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Caban was named interim commissioner following the resignation of his predecessor, Keechant Sewell, after 18 months on the job. Sewell was the first woman to hold the top post at the NYPD, and did not give a reason for stepping down, according to the Associated Press

“Commissioner Sewell smashed a glass ceiling,” Caban said during his appointment, “and she did so with grace, confidence and honor.”

First Deputy New York City Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban at a press confernece

Edward Caban’s Career Timeline

Caban joined the NYPD in 1991 as a patrol officer in the South Bronx, and it wasn’t long until he started climbing the ranks.

He was promoted to sergeant in 1994, then lieutenant five years later, according to the NYPD’s website. Caban continued to rise in the department, becoming a captain in 2005, deputy inspector in 2008, and inspector in 2015.

In 2022, Caban was named first deputy commissioner under Sewell. During his speech at Caban's commissioner appointment, Adams commended Caban, whom the mayor said “worked side by side with Commissioner Sewell to deliver double digit decreases in shootings and murders.”

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According to the department’s data history, there was a 16.7% drop in murder in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared with 2021, as well as 17.2% drop in shooting incidents for the whole year.

For August of 2023 — the first full month Caban led as commission — New York City saw a 23.5% drop in shootings compared to August of 2022, according to NYPD stats. And murders fell by 10% in the period from January to August, in comparison to last year’s first eight months.

A Family Legacy

A second-generation police officer, Caban credited his success in the department to his father, Juan Caban, a retired New York City Transit detective who worked alongside Adams.

“Fortunately for me, I had a mentor who pushed me,” Caban said. “A first-grade detective with tremendous experience. He could spot a pickpocket from across the train platform.”

“Many called him ‘Detective Caban,’ but I was blessed to call him ‘dad,’” he added.

During his career, Caban’s father was the president of the Transit Police Hispanic Society, who, as Adams said, was “fighting for reputation, fighting for equality.”

A Historical Shift for the NYPD

Caban's position as commissioner means he oversees approximately 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees, according to the department.

"The NYPD is the most consequential police department in all of law enforcement — Its storied history, its living legacy of valor, bravery and sacrifice, of ordinary New Yorkers who did extraordinary things," Caban said at his appointment over the summer, as he made history for becoming the NYPD's first Latino commissioner.

“My journey with NYPD began over 32 years ago, a young Puerto Rican kid from Parkchester standing on a foot post in the South Bronx just like thousands who came before me and thousands who have come after me,” he added. “In those days, the top bosses of the police department didn’t really look like me. Police Officer Eddie Caban could not walk into the 40th precinct, look up at the leadership photos hanging on the wall and envision his future."

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More than three decades later, the nation’s largest police department has become a more diverse workplace, with approximately 31% of the department being Hispanic, compared with 29% of the New York City population identified as Hispanic by the Census Bureau.

By comparison, nearly 11% of the NYPD workforce is Asian and 16% are Black, while the U.S. Census calculates that roughly 14% of the city’s population is Asian and 24% are Black, according to stats from the department.

“This is an amazing moment not only for the Spanish-speaking community — this is an amazing moment for the entire city and country,” Adams said during Caban’s appointment.

“I am humbled to be on your team,” Caban said to the mayor. “To have your trust and support and to lead the greatest department on the globe.”

Another Move to Diversify NYPD Leadership

During Caban's appointment to commission, Mayor Adams also announced that Tania Kinsella was appointed as the 45th first deputy commissioner of the department, becoming the first woman of color to hold that position.

Kinsella is a 20-year veteran of the NYPD, and her parents hailed from Jamaica and Guyana, according to NBC New York.

“I am the daughter of two immigrants, this is the American Dream, and I want to thank Mayor Adams and Commissioner Caban for helping fulfill that dream,” she said at the time.

Crime Rates Down

At a breakfast event hosted by The Association for a Better New York in September, Caban spoke about efforts to lower crime rates throughout the city under his leadership.

"Thanks to relentless data-driven deployments and a host of other crimefighting strategies, the summer of 2023 saw reductions in murder and shootings and virtually every other crime category," Caban said at the event, according to CBS New York.

While Caban touted the progress made in recent months, he acknowledged that there was still room for improvement, CBS reported.

“As this summer ends, with our city having made considerable progress in reducing crime and violence, New Yorkers can count on the NYPD’s ongoing vigilance in every neighborhood,” Caban said. “We will continue to use our momentum to ensure that New York remains the safest big city in America.”

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