NYPD Chief Diaz, who crunched crime in lieu of numbers, calls it a day

Diaz started his career in January 1970, in the 1st Precinct — Manhattan’s Financial District, where, as he recalled, thieves would make off with heavy IBM Selectric typewriters.

“And then from there I went to East Harlem, and then I found out from there what it was really like to be a police officer,” he said. “The drug epidemic with heroin was just unbelievable to see. There were so many abandoned buildings, abandoned apartments, people just lying on the streets, down and out, nodding out.”

The state of today’s subway system highlights just how far the city has come since the 1970s, he said.

“We’re averaging maybe six crimes a day,” he said, and the bulk of those are people getting cell phones and iPads grabbed out of their hands. But even those kinds of crimes show people feel secure enough to travel on the subways, openly displaying a valuable piece of electronics, he said.

“Years ago, you would never think of taking a $600 iPad out and having it displayed. That thing would last in your hands about three seconds,” he said.

He credits that change to the way the NYPD operates, anticipating community issues in advance, instead of just reacting to crises.

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