Edward Caban became the 46th New York Police Commissioner on July 17 during a ceremony Monday that proved to be a triumphant moment for Puerto Ricans and others of Latin descent across New York.
Waving the colors of the Caribbean island, the crowd cheered as Caban climbed the steps to the 40th Precinct stationhouse and thrusted a triumphant arm skyward. “Thank you!” the newly-minted top cop cried.
Those in attendance say they see this moment as a pivotal one. While several people of color have had a turbulent relationship with law enforcement— especially in the wake of the George Floyd protests—many charged that they are hopeful things will change with Caban at the helm, going as far as to say they see themselves in him.
“It means a lot to us—it means a lot to the city of New York that someone Hispanic is represented,” Hioda told amNewYork Metro. “I hope he will bring change.”
Maria Reyes agreed. Watching from afar she called it an historic moment.
“There is so much history that I can’t even begin to say. I came just to get a peek,” Reyes said.
Standing shoulder to shoulder and crammed against guardrails, they braved the scorching heat to watch Caban place a hand on a bible and officially become police commissioner.
“It’s pure pride. Pure Puerto Rican pride,” Oswald Denis said, watching the ceremony. “We are faithful, and we are hopeful, and we know 100% that this commissioner, the first Puerto Rican, will do a great job in the city.”
However, while it was a moment of celebration for many, the Legal Aid Society charged that Caban will need to make many sweeping changes in order to reform the department.
“Policing in New York City is in dire need of reform, and Mr. Caban has to make significant inroads with the public to improve their trust in the department he’s about to lead. This starts with acknowledging that law enforcement isn’t a panacea for many community issues and that initiatives like the evidence-based CURE Violence model must take precedence over the continued revamping of the racist and fraught policies and practices of yesteryear,” part of the statement read. “We also implore Mr. Caban to immediately meet with members of the community to establish and maintain channels for input and accountability,” part of the statement from Legal Aid Society read.