Newly minted Police Commissioner Edward Caban rode the subway with his father on Friday before capping off his first full week in the role. During a sit-down interview with amNewYork Metro, Caban discussed his plans for the future, and the controversy surrounding tensions between his predecessor and Mayor Eric Adams.
Caban did not have leagues of security accompanying him when he entered the Chambers and Church Street subway station on July 21. Instead, he walked arm-in-arm with his father, Juan Caban, a retired transit detective. Together the pair rode along the A line — Juan’s old patrol beat — as the top cop spoke with straphangers along the way.
Wearing a tie embossed with a Yankees insignia to rep his favorite team, Commissioner Caban joked with riders as they greeted him, praising those who also donned Yankee attire. Straphangers who rode the northbound train with Caban had a lot to get off their chest to the first Hispanic commissioner in the Police Department’s 178-year history.
However, they also appeared to gravitate comfortably to Caban as he sat shoulder to shoulder with them.
“As a minority, I am holding you to a higher standard,” one man said, stressing that — despite a downward trend in most major crimes crime across the five boroughs – he remains concerned about the state of public safety in the Big Apple, especially within the city’s subways.
“I grew up in the Bronx. I am from that era,” Caban told him. “Public safety is about all of us working together.”
“People’s concerns are safety, first and foremost,” Caban told amNewYork Metro. “That’s everyone’s mission; that’s our mission, that’s their mission, too. We all want the same things. We want to be able to travel the trains and make sure we’re safe on our streets. We’ll be able to make sure our kids can play in parks and feel safe. And that’s why we have a lot of investments in the New York City Transit System. We put over a thousand cops into our transit system, to make sure that we’re safe and I think you look at the results now we’re down in crime 5%. The most it has been in years.”
Having been some years since the senior Caban had ridden the transit system, Juan recalled the carriages being scrawled with graffiti and marveled at the changes that had taken place since he wore the badge in the 1980s.
The police commissioner also commented on recent statistics showing that crime has dropped nearly 25% over the last six months — progress he said he is looking to build upon as he takes the reins of the country’s largest police force.
“The work that men and women in this department have been doing and continue to do. We’re just going to keep on building upon that. Look at the overall city as a whole, talk about crime being down overall. Our subway systems are down, shootings down, violence down, enforcement is up. That’s targeted position policing that’s done by the men and women of this New York City Police Department,” Caban said, adding that he wants to be seen as a “boots on the ground commissioner.”
“I’ve been a boots on the ground kind of person for 32 years now,” he said. “And I have stated publicly, whether you’re a police commissioner, or whether you’re a cop, I think it’s the overall same mission. We want the same thing. We want people to feel safe.”
While Caban seems to be receiving praise and positive feedback on his appointment, especially from those in the Latino community, he is also stepping into the role after tensions were reported between his predecessor and Mayor Adams. Caban commented on his relationship with both individuals, while stating he is looking to put the wellbeing of the public first.
“I’ve had a wonderful relationship with [former Police Commissioner] Keechant Sewell, and over my 32 years I’ve worked with some consummate police professionals. Keechant Sewell ranks among the top. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” Caban said.
On his relationship with the mayor, he said: “I think he has a job to do. I know I have a job to do.”
“I think it’s all about the same mission. Our mission is public safety. Making sure New Yorkers are safe, making sure this continues to be the biggest safest city as it is now in America,” he went on. “I think if you ask any person on the street, that’s not top of the pile. They just want to make sure we have a safe city.”
After riding the A train, the commissioner visited Transit District 1 with his father, the underground station house out of which Juan Caban once served. The father and son duo met with officers there and stood in for the afternoon roll call. After the top cop told amNewYork Metro that he wants the public to know who he is — a Puerto Rican cop who has been in the business for more than three decades.
“I’m a big Yankee fan, I am Hispanic, I like my rice and beans. I am that same guy I was 32 years ago. I was born and raised in the Bronx. I am a proud New Yorker, a proud parent. They’re gonna see me out on their streets every single day,” Caban said. “They can come and say hi, they can give me a hug.”