Dear Commons Community,
Keechant Sewell, the Nassau County chief of detectives, will become New York City’s first female police commissioner.
Chief Sewell’s appointment, which is expected to be announced today, was seen as one of the most important decisions for Eric Adams, the incoming mayor, as he begins to fill out his administration.
Her selection was confirmed last night by Evan Thies, a spokesman for Mr. Adams. Chief Sewell, 49, was chosen from among a field of rumored candidates from within the New York Police Department and from larger police departments around the country. As reported by The New York Times.
Mr. Adams, a former police captain, ran as a centrist in the Democratic primary, promising to address a troubling rise in violence and to rein in police abuse. He will be counting on Chief Sewell to help him strike that balance.
Mr. Adams said in a statement that Chief Sewell was “a proven crime fighter with the experience and emotional intelligence to deliver both the safety New Yorkers need and the justice they deserve.”
Chief Sewell comes from a department that has about 2,400 uniformed officers — less than a tenth of the size of the roughly 35,000 officers employed by the New York Police Department.
A person close to Mr. Adams said he had been impressed by Chief Sewell’s confidence and competence, and her experience working undercover. Her interview process was rigorous and included a mock news conference about the shooting of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer, the person said.
In 23 years with the Nassau Police Department, Chief Sewell, who grew up in Queens, worked in the narcotics and major cases units, and as a hostage negotiator. She was promoted to chief of detectives in September 2020.
Chief Sewell has been viewed as a rising star in policing circles, said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which advises departments on best practices.
“This is a case of someone identifying her early on in her career and moving her up,” he said. “This is someone who has experienced every part of the department from patrol to internal affairs.”
Mr. Adams will announce her appointment at Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City in Queens, where Chief Sewell lived as a child.
“I grew up in Queens,” Chief Sewell said in a video interview with The Post. “This is my city, and now this being my department, I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
Mr. Adams has said he is considering Philip Banks as deputy mayor for public safety, and Mr. Banks helped oversee the hiring process for police commissioner, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Banks, a former chief of department, retired in 2014 amid a corruption scandal. He was never charged with a crime.
In January, Chief Sewell will take over the New York Police Department at what could be the most consequential moment in two decades. A national crisis of trust in American policing has emboldened efforts to reduce the department’s footprint, even as murder and shooting rates remain higher than they were before the pandemic. The relationship between the department and the city’s police unions is strained, and there have been growing calls for more transparency over policing tactics and disciplinary procedures.
Mr. Adams, who will become the city’s second Black mayor, has criticized the left-wing movement to defund the police and has pledged to remove guns from the streets; he has also insisted that the city will be more proactive in removing abusive officers from the department.
Chief Sewell will also be the third Black commissioner to lead the city’s Police Department.
Congratulations and the best of luck to Chief Sewell!