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The Adams administration’s second police commissioner is blazing his own trail by falling in line with City Hall mandates on how to run the NYPD.
- Career NYPD officer
- First deputy police commissioner
- Police commissioner
Representation matters to Edward Caban, the NYPD’s first Latino police commissioner. “In those days,” Caban said in a speech after his appointment, referring to the beginning of his NYPD career, “the top bosses of the police department didn’t really look like me. Police officer Eddie Caban could not walk into the 4-0 Precinct, look up at the leadership photos hanging on the wall, and envision his future…Given how many great leaders of Hispanic descent have come before me in the NYPD, to be the first Hispanic police commissioner is an honor of the highest measure.”
Caban, a career cop, is the son of a retired NYPD detective, and during his long tenure with the department, he’s climbed the its ranks at a steady clip, despite accumulating myriad misconduct allegations from both civilians and the NYPD along the way. After Adams’s last pick for commissioner considered disciplining one of the mayor’s closest allies in the department, perhaps an NYPD insider like Caban is a natural choice for top cop.
Based on a review of police files, the Post reported last year that he was among more than two dozen law enforcement officers accused 30 years ago of cheating on the a sergeants exam. He was found not guilty after an internal investigation and avoided disciplinary action. Almost immediately after becoming a sergeant that year, Caban was hit with a complaint alleging he shoved someone, searched their vehicle, and cursed at them, but the person didn’t make themselves available to investigators, so the complaint was dismissed. Three years later, he was disciplined for abuse of authority after a Civilian Complaint Review Board investigation substantiated a claim that he refused to give a woman the names of two patrol officers whom she accused of wrongfully arresting her and cursing at her.
None of this impacted Caban’s rise. When he was a police captain, in 2006, a man accused Caban of cursing at him and making a vulgar and threatening comment. The unnamed 60-year-old accuser told CCRB investigators that Caban asked for his ID while he was waiting for his daughter in Harlem, then cursed at him, slammed him against the hood of a squad car, and arrested him when the man refused to provide ID. Later, while in a holding cell, the man complained about back pain, and he alleged that Caban then told him he was “getting the ready with the broomstick,” which he interpreted as an allusion to the assault of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a toilet plunger by an NYPD officer in 1997. The CCRB substantiated the man’s claim of a retaliatory summons during the incident, but cleared Caban of making threats or cursing, after a police witness maintained that the future commissioner was “very nice and polite” during the wrongful arrest. The allegation of excessive physical force was also determined by the CCRB to be “unfounded.”
In spite of these potholes in the road to success, Edward Caban grabbed the reins of the nation’s largest police force in 2023, when original Adams appointee Keechant Sewell—the first Black woman to hold the title—stepped down as police commissioner. Sewell was reportedly pressured out of the position after she refused to let Adams ally Jeffrey Maddrey, the NYPD’s chief of department, off the hook for his alleged involvement in voiding the arrest of a former cop who had allegedly brandished a gun at some teens in a park. Caban was elevated from the rank of first deputy commissioner, a role that Adams himself pushed for Caban to fill in 2022 over higher-ranking NYPD chiefs.
As commissioner, Caban has cleaned house, ushering out several high-ranking NYPD officials in August—including Department Advocate Amy Litwin, who actually made the recommendation that Sewell discipline Maddrey—and attending a tourism security forum in Qatar during a department-wide mobilization over pro-Palestine protests in October. (Luckily, Caban had enough free time to squeeze in an induction into the Freemasons, along with Maddrey and Adams, in September.)
While complaints against the NYPD are at an 11-year high under the Adams administration, Caban has reportedly “swooped in” to soften or nullify disciplinary action against cops for misconduct such as sleeping with a witness and lying about it and using an illegal chokehold. The NYPD did not respond to multiple requests for comment about Caban.
The NYPD’s pattern of leniency might not bode well for the family of Kawaski Trawick, who wants justice for his 2019 killing at the hands of the two NYPD officers who shot him to death less than two minutes after entering his Bronx home. Those officers avoided criminal charges in court and were cleared of wrongdoing in a stilted, painfully slow internal investigation by the department. Now, it’s up to Caban to determine whether those officers, Herbert Davis and Brendan Thompson, will retain their jobs. In fact, the mayor is insistent that the choice is in Caban’s hands alone. It’s hard to feel optimistic about what he’ll decide.
- Edward Caban’s CCRB record | 50-a.org
- Second-highest-ranking NYPD official once involved in cheating scandal, disciplinary records reveal | The New York Post
- First Hispanic Police Commissioner Has Deep Roots in the N.Y.P.D. | The New York Times
- Likely Interim NYPD Commissioner Was Accused of Abner Louima-Related Threat | The CITY
- Good cop, bad cop: NYPD commissioner’s twin brother was kicked off police force, jailed for being negligent landlord | City & State New York
Last updated: 12/18/2023
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