Richard Brown’s recent passing brought to a close his nearly three-decade career as district attorney in Queens—a remarkable tenure that coincided with a dramatic shift in crime that today places New York City among the safest big cities in the United States.

For many, the former appellate judge’s 28 years at the helm represent a remarkable success, given the level of relative safety and security communities throughout Queens and across the city enjoy today. For others, Brown’s long hold on the office came with a rigidity that failed to change with the times, making Queens a holdout to reforms. Either way, the unparalleled changes the city has faced since Brown was first appointed in 1991 will remain inseparable from his ultimate legacy.